If this post doesn’t have you singing Camptown Races for the rest of the day, I don’t know what will…Since we’ve lived out there in the “burbs”, people would always ask about the Lunden Travbanen Races which almost just down the street from us. In fact, I pass the gates every day on the way to forest school but never really paid them much attention, other than the occasional “I wonder what that is…” thought every now and again.
For some reason, I thought the track was home to greyhound races, which probably explains why I never cared to go in. The other day the poster for the 125th anniversary of the races caught my eye (have you noticed it’s a big year for “anniversaries” this year? ) and since a horse featured prominently in the poster, that solved the first question. And instead of the seedy underbelly of animal racing that I half-expected to find, instead we found ourselves face with a solid dose of old-timey family fun. And it all started with the organ grinders and classic cars out front.
The races are sponsored by Steiff hotdogs so definitely plenty of those around, but there were also a few food trucks and food vendors doing everything from smoked brisket to nutella “pandekage” (pancakes) to fish’n’chips fried on spot and full on porchetta roasts…
Although plenty of people preferred the traditional restaurants (“Cafe Pit Stop” anyone?) where you could watch, eat, drink, smoke and place bets all at the same time….
Old school carnival games, pony rides, raffles, bouncy castles – it never really occurred to me that going to the track was such a family thing but leave it to Denmark.. After sampling all of the above, we settled in at the finish line to watch a bit…
You’d think that determining who wins a horse race would be easy stuff – it’s who crosses the finish line, right? But while at some moments it looked like indeed people were headed to a particular finish point with speed that would suggest a race, and with cheers that would suggest crowd favorites, at some point there were horses going in both directions…sideways…jockeys walking around the track. But it was fun to watch all the same. There is some element of pageantry (though, let’s face it, not quite at the high brow level of the Hubertusjagt Ride) with the jockey colors and the receiving line of caped ladies, but no one was taking themselves too, too seriously either. Just the right amount of light-heartedness.
The horses themselves were gorgeous and athletic, and often times, completely soaked by the end of a race – all of the racers had the riders on these old-school little chariots of fire, rather than actually riding the horses. I’m sure there is a technical name for that but I haven’t discovered it yet.
The races take place periodically throughout the summer, and Lunden Travbanen website has more information (run it through Google Translate for the humorous scoop in English). I don’t know if every race is as family friendly as this one, though I definitely understand why people say they grew up going to them here. I bet they stick around for at least another 125 years.