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Black-Eyed Susan Day
The Pimlico infield on Preakness day
In 2011 the Preakness infield experience chnaged from what was often an embarrassing free-for-all to a much more organized event. Budweiser InfieldFEST is a multi-entertainment festival with the main stage headlined by Grammy award winning electronic dance music artist Zedd and country superstar Sam Hunt. The DeKuyper Stage features Maryland-based Good Charlotte and LOCASH, and Canadian country stars High Valley. Since 2009, The Stronach Group has partnered with I.M.P., renowned independent promoters and owners of the famed 9:30 Club, operators of Merriweather Post Pavilion and The Lincoln Theatre, and soon to open The Anthem at D.C's Southwest waterfront, to deliver a top tier festival experience on the InfieldFest main stage.
The new Infield policy started in 2009 on alcohol and all beverages will be again be in effect for the 2017 Preakness, including the Infield's Top of the Stretch seating area. Tickets for the public Infield will be $100 in advance or $110 on race day. There is also a "MUG Club" ticket which includes all you can drink beer for those 21 and older which is $120 and mus be purchased in advance (discount pricing ended in February). You must be 21 to enter Mug Club areas and receive Mug Club benefits and there are limited quantities of Mug Club tickets available. In order to receive a Mug, a ticket must be presented, 1 ticket per person (1 person may NOT present several tickets and receive corresponding mugs). Mug Club tickets will be exchanged for the limited-edition InfieldFest 2017 souvenir cup onsite. Mug Club ticket includes access to all Infield Festival party areas, as well as exclusive Mug Club areas. All your beer is included in the Mug Club ticket price at Mug Club stations. Only official Preakness-issued souvenir Mug Club cup will be accepted at filling stations. Mug will not be replaced if lost or stolen. Please note that beverage brands are subject to change, and based on consumptions some brands may not be available throughout the day. The MUG Club opens at 8AM and last call is at 6:45PM.
In addition, the new Mug and Vine Lounge will be added at the top of the stretch, a "VIP" type area which includes the usual MUG Club beer offerings along with fine wines, cash bar, water and sode, private restrooms, its own TV screen, and a picnic lounge. Tickets for this area are limited and cost $155.
As has been the policy the last few years, NO beverages of any kind (cans or bottles) will be allowed to be brought into the Infield. This includes alcohol, soft drinks and water, forcing fans to purchase any beverages once they are inside the track. Food items and Picnic Lunches are OK to bring into the infield. You may carry food items and picnic lunches in CLEAR, See-through plastic containers – NO Thermoses, backpacks, duffle bags, bulk or oversized carrying devices allowed. Coolers larger than 28"L x 15"W x 17"H are prohibited,. Top of the Stretch seats will be limited to coolers 12 x 12 x 12" or smaller. In addition you cannot bring in totems, frisbees, laser pointers, glow sticks, tripods, tents, balloons, balls, fireworks, mace/pepper spray, grills, umbrellas, weapons, wheeled carts of any kind, metal furniture/tables/ladders/scaffolds (folding or not). Full rules are available here.
Bar concession prices include $12 Black-Eyed Susans, $10 mixed drinks, $8 glasses of wine, $8 beer, $5 cans of Red Bull, and $4 water or soda. The Black-Eyed Susan recipe seems to change every year or two as "official sponsor" liquor brands change. Here is this year's recipe.
At time of writing the full list of Infield activities and promotions has not been released, but we do know that it will host the annual Bikini Contest at the Jagermeister Second Stage. In addition the military will be on display, with the Air Force bringing its Flat Black Suburban "show truck" tricked out with two 1000-watt amplifiers and the Marines bringing its new M1151 HMMWV Hummer designed to carry more passengers or additional supplies up to 2300 lb. The Army Parachute Team usually performs during the undercard, followed by a flyover of the B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber. As per tradition the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club sings Maryland My Maryland during the post parade, while tenor Anthony Kearns will sing the national anthem.
“The Preakness is one of the most storied sporting events in American history,” said Belinda Stronach, Chairman and President of The Stronach Group. “It is our goal to honor that history while continuing to modernize the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing by offering unique entertainment and guest experiences, such as InfieldFest, to engage a new generation of fans. This concert is for the fans and we are excited to share such a talented lineup with our guests,” said Stronach.
In the past, the Preakness Infield has been notorious as the wildest of the Triple Crown races with fans lugging in huge coolers of beer and getting extremely drunk and rowdy. The kids in the local neighborhood were disappointed the first year under the new regime as they always made some extra cash by pushing stolen grocery carts filled with beer for patrons walking from their cars to the Infield entrance. This also put a stop to the "running of the urinals" on Preakness day which had been a "tradition" until 2008. It is worth noting that in 2008, 126 fans were ejected from the infield and 6 were arrested, directly resulting in the sweeping changes in 2009.
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