Today is the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby.
The Kentucky Derby is known as “the most exciting 2 minutes in sports”, and the “fastest 2 minutes in sports.”
Before I had children, I attended the Kentucky Derby nearly every year. It is an event beyond compare. The horses, the track, the mint juleps, the hats!
Oh how we love the Kentucky Derby!
My husband would rather be no where but in a deer stand, period. If it is bow season, muzzle-loader season, or rifle season, I have no husband. He is in a deer stand. Nothing compares with hunting…………
EXCEPT….. The Kentucky Derby. He will tell you it is by far his favorite thing to do. It’s hard to explain the nostalgic-ism, the atmosphere, the history, it is just incomparable. Nothing is like the the Derby.
A few years ago I “overpopulated,” as my father puts it, and had 4 beautiful offspring, which has put a little damper on the Kentucky Derby Festivities around our place.
As our children are getting older, we are beginning to get our Kentucky-Derby-Party back on! I am looking forward to the day I can stand beside my children at Churchill Downs as the horses enter the starting gates just as they did 140+ years ago. I will put my arms around my sons and daughters as we stand for the singing of My Old Kentucky Home. I will have tears in my eyes as the band opens and we sing our State’s beloved Anthem. I am looking forward to that day.
Until then, I will remember and dream……….
The Kentucky Derby is arguably the biggest event of the year here in The Bluegrass State. Businesses close, schools close, practically the entire city of Louisville is on vacation the first week in May. It’s the Kentucky Derby!
There are songs, glasses, fashions, drinks, and desserts all created for the Kentucky Derby.
The Derby is a race of 3 year old thoroughbreds. It is the first race of the American Triple Crown. The other 2 races follow the Derby. They are the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. A horse must win all 3 races to win the Triple Crown.
The Kentucky Derby is unique in that it has run every year consecutively since 1875. It also has the highest attendance of any race in America.
Being at Churchill Downs and watching the running of the Kentucky Derby is like watching history. The Derby is sometimes referred to as “The Run For The Roses.” This is because, since 1883 the winning horse of the Derby has been awarded a gorgeous blanket of 554 red roses.
Here in Kentucky we have managed to turn a 2 minute race into a 2 week long celebration. The Derby Festivities are kicked off with the largest fireworks display in the world (Thunder Over Louisville) and include: a parade, a balloon glow, a hot-air balloon race, bed races, Chow Wagons, concerts, Great Steamboat race, children’s tea, Marathons, Art Contest, Horse racing and of course Derby parties.
If you want to attend the Derby, but don’t want to mortgage your house, the infield is an option.
The infield is the grassy (or muddy depending on weather) area inside the race track. The infield tickets should come with a warning. I have been to the infield (unfortunately) a couple of times. I had the (miserable) privilege of seeing girls mud-wrestling, watching an intoxicated man strip, run naked across a line of port-a-pot’s and jump off the other end where police were waiting for him. I also would like to add that the time I spent imprisoned in the infield I never saw a horse all day.
So, I don’t recommend the infield, especially if you want to take your children.
The other end of the Derby Viewing Spectrum is Millionaire’s Row. These are expensive box seats that attract the rich and famous. They also attract those who are not so rich or famous but are well-connected.
Somewhere in between is where I usually fall (or fell when I was attending the Derby). I have sat in boxes, on bleachers, and in the grand-stand. As long as you aren’t in the infield, you’ll see the races and probably have a blast.
Some things you will want to do at the Kentucky Derby:
- Stay away from the infield – if at all possible.
- Have a Mint Julep. It is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. It is an iced drink consisting of bourbon, mint, and a sugar syrup. At the track this historic drink is served in a collectible souvenir glass (first sold in 1939 and updated each year since).
- Dress to impress and be sure to wear a hat! This is one place where you will not feel out of place, uncomfortable, or awkward in a hat. The more outrageous the better. The Derby is all about the hats (and maybe a horse or two).
- Eat Derby Pie. This delicious chocolate and nut pie is a Kentucky secret. Best enjoyed warm with a side of ice-cream.
- Hold on to your hat when the entire crowd of 160,000 people stand as the starting gates are loaded and the band begins to play the State Anthem and prepare to cry.
- Be sure to bet on your favorite horse. I’m famous for $2 bets. I never win big, but I never loose big either. And I always have fun.
- Last, be on the look out for famous faces. There are always celebrities milling about Churchill Downs on Derby day. Presidents, royalty, sports stars, Hollywood stars, have all graced the city of Louisville, KY the first Saturday in May.
We took our 4 kids to the Chowwagon this year. It is an event that is a lot like a state fair (without animals).
There’s every kind of carnival food imaginable. There’s live music. There’s the Ohio River. There’s playgrounds. There’s even a midway full of rides ready to take all of your money!
We went on Sunday for the Gospelfest. It featured live Christian music all afternoon. It was truly awesome. Unspoken was the main event and they were nothing short of incredible. Great live show. Way better than on the radio. Uplifting, fun, great musicians.
While we were there a small child we did not know walked up to my youngest daughter (pictured above). The little girl said, “Are you a cowboy?”
My daughter said, “Yes.”
If you ever get a chance to attend the Kentucky Derby, please say, “Yes” and invite me to come with you. We will have a blast!
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