IF YOU GO

What: Kentucky Derby hat contest


When: Noon to 2 p.m. Saturday


Where: SunRay Park and Casino, 39 Road 5568, Farmington


Cost: Free


FARMINGTON — The Kentucky Derby race has been dubbed one of the most exciting two minutes in sports.

But the extravagant hats are really what it's all about, according to Anthony Montono, the head of marketing at SunRay Park and Casino.

For the past 13 years, SunRay Casino has been hosting a Kentucky Derby hat contest. This year's contest will be from noon to 2 p.m. today in the High Desert Club at the casino.

Derby hats originated at the Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby is ran each year.

SunRay Casino took the idea and turned it into a competition. The first year, there were only about a dozen participants, Montono said. The contest has now grown to about 100 participants.

"The hats are really big," Montono said.

They also tend to be elaborately decorated.

"There's a lot of creativity that goes with it," Montono said.

One year, a woman wore a huge hat with a racetrack around it. There were model horses on the racetrack that appeared to be running around the hat.

To encourage this creativity, SunRay offers cash prizes in various categories to hat contest participants over 17 years old. The categories include elegant, most outrageous, creativity and seniors for women and originality for men. While men do participate in the contest, the majority of the participants are women.

For participants who are younger than 17, the casino gives out tickets to Allen Theater.

Montono estimated between 4,000 to 5,000 people will be at SunRay today for the Kentucky Derby. From the time the grounds open until they close, there will be a wide variety of hats and outfits for people to admire.

"It's just a day of proud ladies at SunRay," Montono said.

Hannah Grover can be reached at hgrover@daily-times.com; 505-564-4652. Follow her on Twitter @hmgrover.