Ladies champagne luncheon celebrates fashion, tradition, equestrian competition

Published 3:45 pm Thursday, March 30, 2017

Hats are a staple of cultures around the world and the global equestrian community has many traditions featuring the fashion accessory, like the famous derby hat.

Five years ago, as part of the prestigious Fork Horse Trials, Fork co-founder Bernadette Codgell started an annual Ladies Champagne Luncheon, inviting women to dress up in their best derby hats and cocktail dresses.

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This April 5-9 The Fork Horse Trials, presented by Lucky Clays Farm, is being held at the world-class Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring. Continuing her tradition, Cogdell and co-host Katherine Bellissimo of Tryon Equestrian Partners are inviting women to don their favorite derby hats and cocktail dresses for the annual Ladies Champagne Luncheon on Friday, April 6 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Tryon Resort’s Legends Club.

The spring holiday season originally provided Cogdell with inspiration for her annual fete.

The luncheon has grown from 30 attendees in its first year to 120 last year, proving its popularity. Cogdell also gives prizes for “best hat” and “most original hat,” adding to the fun of the occasion.

For the past three years, the event has benefitted the non-profit organization Brooke USA and its work on behalf of Brooke, the leading international animal welfare charity working to improve the lives of working horses, donkeys, mules and the people who depend on them. This year, attendees are encouraged to wear a touch of orange in honor of this important organization.

Not familiar to horse sport? Cogdell always invites riders from the international divisions to give brief introductions and chat with guests about the equestrian events they are watching.

Several social events are being held throughout the weekend in celebration of The Fork including a comedy show and party on Saturday, April 8 and a lakeside luncheon with VIP seating for the CIC3* on Sunday, April 9. Event details and tickets are available online at or by calling 828-863-1130.

– article submitted by Michelle McConnell Yelton