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Canterbury Park's Kentucky Derby viewing party has long brought together horse-racing fanatics and clothing connoisseurs — and those who wouldn't know a filly from a fascinator, but wanted to share in the Southern fun.

This year, the Shakopee racetrack added a Derby Fashion Extravaganza produced by Twin Cities stylist Grant Whittaker as part of a benefit for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Attendees took their Derby looks as seriously as those strutting the runway.

Some dapper looks focused on the details (think: mint julep bow tie). Others went bold, with bright colors, bold patterns and, of course, the event's signature head-turning hats — topped with everything from faux flowers and frilly feathers to miniature horses.

Karen Washington spent Derby day celebrating her birthday weekend. She saw her fuchsia taffeta hi-low dress in a boutique window the night prior. “I was like, ‘I have to have that outfit.’ So I went back and bought it today.”
Karen Washington spent Derby day celebrating her birthday weekend. She saw her fuchsia taffeta hi-low dress in a boutique window the night prior. “I was like, ‘I have to have that outfit.’ So I went back and bought it today.”

Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune

Fashion-lover Ana Herregraven always on the hunt for unique looks so she was a little disappointed to see someone else wearing a hat she bought from Amazon (don't worry, she'd brought a second option). She dressed husband Marc Herregraven to match ("I didn't have a choice" he said) in a blue suit to match the bustier top of her pleated dress.

Matt Wells donned his first bow tie for the occasion, and accessorized down to a pair of pink shoelaces — a contrast to his usual lower-key look. "This is just for fun. It's like prom for grown ups."

Kay Romig went with a white-on-white look — and a pair of glittery slides to be comfortably stylish in the paddock grass.

Maryna Daw shopped her closet for her dress and Amazon for her hat. "I thought it would flow well with my outfit," she said. "I love hats."

Colette Klem and her husband Josh Klem usually host a derby party of their own, but they took a year off this year. Colette coordinated with son, Cade, 18 months, in a pastel purple. “We’re Vikings fans, too,” Josh added.
Colette Klem and her husband Josh Klem usually host a derby party of their own, but they took a year off this year. Colette coordinated with son, Cade, 18 months, in a pastel purple. “We’re Vikings fans, too,” Josh added.

Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune

Loveline Toussaint, a fashionista and animal lover, had been waiting by the mailbox for a fun, playful dress she ordered from Free People, "It came just in time."

Kari Southwick arrived in the party's biggest hat, which she decorated herself with an enormous pink flower, feathers and pampas grass — an artistic talent she's been waiting to unleash. "I have four daughters so I had to wait until everybody was done with their prom."

Rammy Mohamed, a St. Paul-based fashion designer, stepped out in floral sandals and paired a burgundy fascinator with flowy, monochromatic silk. "I wanted the hat to speak louder," she said.

Sarah Edwards thrifted a Burberry trench and customized it by hand painting the fabric and adding a bit of bling. "It's a custom Burberry art piece from Goodwill," she said.

"I'm all about fashion," said Aisha Kamara. "Anything fashion I'm there." Especially after two years of pandemic living. "I wanted to catch up on what we missed."

Atlantis Wigfall went with a sleek black dress and then gussied up the fascinator she'd bought, to lend a bit more flair. "The Derby hat is the focal point of the event," she said.

BeBe Zahara Benet, known for winning the first season of the reality-television show RuPaul’s Drag Race, paired a Hot Roz suit featuring Ankara prints of West Africa with a leather hat from Blonde Swan for his first Derby.
BeBe Zahara Benet, known for winning the first season of the reality-television show RuPaul’s Drag Race, paired a Hot Roz suit featuring Ankara prints of West Africa with a leather hat from Blonde Swan for his first Derby.

Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune