In a city best known for its surf, Huntington Beach is trying to build a reputation on land as well. Its Summer Classic equestrian competition was an elegant affair for the horsy set.
The highlight of the six-day competition took place Sunday, when nearly 700 guests dressed in California chic enjoyed a gourmet luncheon at the Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center. They watched horses and riders jump fences in what is officially called the GTE The Everything Pages Summer Classic VI. Guests paid $75 to $125 each (depending on their table location) to attend the luncheon; the competition was expected to net $125,000 for the Huntington Beach Art Center.
Taste of England
The Summer Classic luncheon has come a long way since its first year, when guests ate fried chicken off of paper plates.
This year they sat at tables set with china and white and green linens under a large white tent on the grass obstacle course. Instead of chicken, they dined on cold poached salmon with dill sauce, carved chateaubriand and asparagus in sherry vinaigrette prepared by Catering by Maxwell’s.
“This looks like Ascot in England with a touch of Huntington Beach,” said Diana Casey, event co-chairwoman. “We’ve come a long way.”
In the past, the luncheon took place in another area of central park, exposing guests to sun and dust.
“The first year we were in the dirt. Now we’re under the trees on the grass. This year we got it right,” said Michael Mudd, co-chairman. Party planners hope to make one change next year: Replace the plastic fencing surrounding the course with a more aesthetically pleasing wooden fence.
Thrill of the Ride
The Summer Classic attracts lovers of both art and horses. Joan Irvine Smith, whose equestrian competition at the Oaks in San Juan Capistrano enjoys an international reputation, sat ringside watching the horses intently.
Sally Jankowiak, wife of co-chairman Don Jankowiak, is a devoted rider who was named reserve champion in the adult amateur division.
“Riding is a challenge. It’s never the same because you’re riding an animal with feelings,” Jankowiak said. “You have intense highs and lows, so you keep coming back for more.”
This was the first year for art patrons that the center was more than a dream. The center, a joint public and private venture, has been open since March. Event proceeds will go to its operating costs.
“In these difficult financial times, it’s important we contribute a lot to the operating fund to take the burden off the city of Huntington Beach,” said Bob Goodrich, chairman of the Huntington Beach Art Center Foundation.
Other luncheon guests were Mary Harris, owner of the equestrian center; Gerald Chapman, co-chairman; Kay Waldhauser; Mario and Diane Antoci; Pam Patterson; Ellen Goodwin; H.S. and Mikoon Kim; Doug and Sue Hajek; Burt and Doris Willis; Bobbit Williams; Ron and Judy Shenkman; Bill and Harriet Harris; Laura Volberding; Richard and Janed Sax, and Bill and Barbara Gibson.