Revelers in the Preakness Infield were jovial Saturday morning, staking out prime spots -- near the track for some, and near concert stages for others.
Lines for betting moved quickly, while the wait for those paying $20 extra for a refillable beer mug quickly swelled to a 30-minute wait.
"I'm in it for the experience," said Megan Yardchik, a Federal Hill resident attending her third-straight Preakness in a wide-brimmed, gold and white straw hat. Yardchik and friends Leah Rogan and Matthew Egan staked out a spot near the Jagermeister tent in the middle of the infield, indifferent to the horses circling them but for the chance to win money off of them.
Southeast Baltimore residents Justin Heinlein and Nicolette Cornelius were among a group that took a spot about 25 feet from a fence that stands another 50 feet from the track -- as close as they could get. They staked off their site with caution tape borrowed from another reveler, something Heinlein said reminded him off he old days when alcohol was permitted in the infield.
But Heinlein said he enjoyed today's infield scene more, without passed-out college kids at 11 a.m.
"It's a lot better now. You can't beat it for 70 bucks," he said.
Rob Regan of Boston has been going to the Preakness for 10 years and said the biggest change in that time was when the race stopped letting people bring their own alcohol.
"It's completely different with not bringing beer here," said Regan, who was drinking with a big group of friends. But "the party atmosphere's sill good."
"We like watching people wait in line for like 10 hours for a beer," said his friend Tracy Nickles.
Ballston, Va., resident Lauren Tindall came with her brother, Andrew, and his classmates at West Point setting graduate next week and decked out in pastel colors, Ray-Bans and bow ties. Tindall said it was their first Preakness, but she likened it to Foxfields, a horse race in Virginia.
"They have the horses, but it's a much smaller infield" at Foxfields, she said. Foxfields also has worse traffic, she said.