The 27th Annual Forest Park Forever Hat Luncheon Packed the Pavilion & Raised Vital Funds to Support Forest Park

KMOX News Anchor Carol Daniel emceed this year’s Hat Luncheon; event co-chairs were Vanessa F. Cooksey & Carolyn G. Farrell

FPF President & Executive Director Lesley S. Hoffarth (center) with event co-chairs Carolyn G. Farrell and Vanessa F. Cooksey

FPF President & Executive Director Lesley S. Hoffarth (center) with event co-chairs Carolyn G. Farrell and Vanessa F. Cooksey

Katy Peace, Marketing & Digital Media Manager | | 314.561.3290

ST. LOUIS, June 14, 2017 – Forest Park Forever welcomed more than 1,100 Park supporters to the World's Fair Pavilion for its annual Hat Luncheon on Thursday, June 8. This always popular event is the single largest annual fundraiser for Forest Park, supporting the important work our nonprofit conservancy does to restore, maintain and sustain the Park along with the City of St. Louis.

Guests donned their fanciest fascinators and chicest chapeaus in anticipation of winning terrific prizes for their creative and stylish millinery, all while supporting Forest Park. Between ticket sales, sponsorships and a raffle, the event raised more than $450,000 to support critical maintenance of Forest Park.


This year’s sold-out luncheon, now in its 27th year, was presented by The Women’s Committee of Forest Park Forever and co-chairs Vanessa F. Cooksey (Senior Vice President of Community Affairs for Wells Fargo Advisors) and Carolyn G. Farrell (community leader and longtime Forest Park Forever volunteer).

KMOX News Anchor Carol Daniel served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the luncheon, and shared the stage with speakers including Mayor Lyda Krewson, Forest Park Forever Board member Larry Thomas and Forest Park Forever President & Executive Director Lesley S. Hoffarth, P.E. The luncheon culminated with the Stifel Hat Contest. Winners were announced and brought to the stage in several categories including:

  • Best Table Theme: St. Stanislaus Church
  • Dapper Dudes: Graham Farrell, Reuben Reuel & Chris Gordon
  • Fascinator: Susan Gillham, Mia Malcolm & Diedre Gray
  • Romantic: Lisa Buchhold, Renee Bennett & Ulrike Schlafly
  • Vintage: Cheryl Redohl, Donna Doerhoff & Diana Drisko
  • Whimsical: Anaceta Steffen, Megan Rasche & Susan Lyons
  • People’s Choice: Norma Taaffe (chosen by audience applause)

Many thanks go out to the wonderful Hat Contest judges: Cheree Berry (Cheree Berry Paper); Shannon Berry Meyer (Missouri History Museum); Simon Kelly (Saint Louis Art Museum); Sheila Little-Forrest (Afroworld); Krista Tolbert (Women’s Closet Exchange); and Laurie Waters (YWCA)

“We are so grateful for the outpouring of support we receive at the annual Forest Park Forever Hat Luncheon,” said Lesley S. Hoffarth, President and Executive Director of the conservancy. “It’s inspiring to see so many people gather at the World’s Fair Pavilion in recognition of what an important civic treasure Forest Park is for our community. Thanks to our co-chairs, Women’s Committee members, sponsors and fashion-forward attendees, the Hat Luncheon is always a day to remember.”

Presenting sponsors of the 2017 Forest Park Forever Hat Luncheon were Edward Jones, Emerson, Judy Jones, Stifel and Wells Fargo Advisors. A full list of sponsors and in-kind donors can be found at

About Forest Park Forever

Founded in 1986, Forest Park Forever is a private nonprofit conservancy that works in partnership with the City of St. Louis and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry to restore, maintain and sustain Forest Park as one of America’s greatest urban public parks.

Along with the City of St. Louis, Forest Park Forever raised $100 million between 1995 and 2003 and dramatically restored many landmark destinations in Forest Park, including the Emerson Grand Basin, the Boathouse and the Jewel Box.

Today, Forest Park Forever maintains Forest Park with the City of St. Louis; raises funds for and helps manage capital restoration projects called for in the Forest Park Master Plan; delivers experiential educational opportunities to teachers, students and adults; and provides information and guides for the Park’s 13 million annual visitors. Not part of the Zoo-Museum Tax District, Forest Park Forever is supported by private donations from throughout the community, including its 7,000 members, 1,100 volunteers and many leading community and corporate partners.

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