High Altitude Society: Vail Derby Party benefits Children’s Garden of Learning

Special to the Daily/Betty Ann Woodland

On a warm spring Saturday afternoon at the Singletree Pavilion in Edwards a group of Kentucky Derby fans gathered to help raise funds for Children’s Garden of Learning preschool. The buzz at this past Saturday’s event suggested that the inaugural Vail Derby Party to benefit the school could be the beginning of a tradition. And, tradition is what the Derby is all about.

In keeping with the theme, a dress code was strongly encouraged and the attendees did not disappoint. Women’s artistically embellished Derby hats date back 100 years and the more outlandish, the better.

Dictated by tradition, the official drink of the Kentucky Derby is the infamous mint julep with sprigs of fresh mint, crushed ice, sugar and bourbon whiskey. The tale goes that no Derby party is complete without this elixir of sweetness and mint. With glass in hand, the crowd gathered around a big screen and watched the running of the 139th Run for the Roses. Of course, there was the opportunity to bet on your favorite horse and bid on some special auction items, all to support the children at the preschool.

The Vail Derby Party co-chairs, Atlanta Meynier and Summer Elton, were pleased with the turnout. “The phone calls and emails came pouring in the last few days, so we are thrilled. I think it is a good time of year for a party. People are ready for something fun to do,” Meynier said.

After a long winter it was refreshing to see the pretty spring dresses, strappy high heels, gorgeous Derby hats, Ralph Lauren Polo fashion, croquet sets and seersuckers. Attendees noshed on delicious Southern fare prepared by chef Mike Irwin and Whitney and Chris Armistead, owners of Last Course restaurant in the Riverwalk at Edwards. The Armisteads are commited to Children’s Garden of Learning.

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“We have a daughter who has graduated from the school and one child starting out at the school, and we love it,” school board member Chris Armistead said.

To learn more about the school’s curriculum and Reggio Emilia philosophy, visit

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