When Harry Vaiden was challenged to come up with a fundraiser for the Augusta Training Shop 11 years ago, he racked his brain for an idea.
“We sat around and everyone kept coming up with ideas that had all been done before,” said the retired training shop board member. “Then I thought, what about a Kentucky Derby party?”
On Saturday, the nonprofit, which provides permanent employment for mentally and physically challenged adults, held its annual Derby Day at the Julian Smith Casino.
“We just keep getting bigger and bigger,” said board President Lee Prather, adding that it has been moved to larger locations each year.
A long table featured artwork made by employees. Those pieces and items from businesses, including a red “wheelbarrow of cheer,” holding bottles of liquor, among other things, were auctioned off.
The bar featured a special mint julep recipe, also from Vaiden. There was live music, Southern food and a hat competition.
Cindy Wilson came to Derby Day for the second straight year with plans to buy more art. The Asheboro, N.C., resident had decided she would make the trip every year.
“It is such a fun day,” she said.
The Kentucky Derby was shown on a large television in the middle of the room, but before and after, many patrons were under the tent.
“Everybody loves the cause and loves the passion,” Prather said. “We’re only going to get bigger.”