SIOUX CITY | Bedecked in their finest Southern attire, an estimated 180 Siouxlanders filed into the Sioux City Country Club ballroom Saturday evening to watch the "fastest two minutes in sports" while supporting a good cause.
Titled "Derby and Dreams," the event was the annual fundraiser for the Pier Center for Autism, a nonprofit autism clinic located in Sioux City. The event, now in its fourth year, is sponsored by several area businesses, with all proceeds going to the center.
“We rely on some of these funds for scholarships and improvement in the facility," said Sean Peterson, the Pier Center's clinical director. "The donations we get here tonight really help impact a lot of lives as the clinic continues to grow.”
The event began with a social hour, followed by one of the Derby's most exciting draws: the annual Mascot Scramble. During the scramble, seven area team mascots partnered with seven attendees to face off in a tournament-style gauntlet of obstacle course challenges, including a three-legged race, an egg-in-spoon race, a bean bag toss and more.
This year, Bolt the Briar Cliff University mascot and Micha Herbst, a BCU alumna, beat tough competition including the Sioux City Explorers' Slider, the Sioux City Musketeers' Muskie and the reigning champion, Dirty Bird from the Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA, to take home the traveling Mascot Scramble trophy.
Herbst said while winning the event for her alma mater felt good, she was more excited to be a part of an event that benefits a worthy cause.
"Supporting autism is a great cause," Herbst said. "A lot of Briar Cliff supporters are here today, and it's rewarding to be a part of it."
Other events Saturday included a "best hat" challenge with men's and women's divisions, a dinner, and silent and live auctions. During the Kentucky Derby itself, attendees sat at tables named for the competing horses. The table with the winning horse's name won $100 each in free play at WinnaVegas, with $50 and $25 prizes awarded to second and third places, respectively.
Travis Morgan from WinneVegas Casino Resort and Bruce Miller, editor of the Sioux City Journal, were the event's emcees.
Josh Cobbs, who serves on the board of Mid-Step Services, which owns the center, said the center decided on a Kentucky Derby-themed event four years ago because it was a unique but fun time to hold an event.
"Our first year we were really curious of whether people dressed up, and they did, so we knew we had something on our hands," Cobbs said.
Cobbs said attendance at the event continues to grow, and he and Peterson agreed that while the event provides a lot of entertainment, their favorite part is seeing the community support a cause they are both passionate about.
"I’m a father of a child with autism, so it’s great to see so many people coming out and supporting the clinic," Cobbs said. "That’s my favorite part, is people who get what we do and come out and support us."