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And They’re Off!

The countdown to Kentucky Derby 149 has begun

The Bluegrass state will be dressed in her spring finest for the build-up to the big day. Thunder Over Louisville is one of the nation’s top air shows on April 22, and after dark, one of the country’s largest pyrotechnic shows. April 27th is the opening day of Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront. Concerts, food trucks, Chow Wagon, and fun for the entire family abound until Derby Eve, May 5.

The Derby City hosts a long list of events the week before the main event that everyone knows about: The Kentucky Derby. Some of my favorites are the Great Balloon Race, Pegasus Parade and The Great Steamboat race.  

Your Derby outfit won’t be complete without a fabulous chapeau! Forme’ Millinery, Christine A. Moore Millinery and The Hat Girls offer a beautiful array of women’s and men’s hats that will have you fitting right in at Churchill Downs's “Millionaires Row” for the Derby. If you would like to create your own, Judith M. Millinery Supply can provide the materials to gussy up an existing hat or fascinator.

Churchill Downs hosts a week of races and other activities to keep you entertained. Dawn at the Downs is a unique experience that will take your breath away. You can watch the Thoroughbreds that will be running on Saturday in the morning mist as the sun rises over the Twin Spires. The Kentucky Derby Museum, just outside the gates of Churchill Downs, celebrates the rich history and tradition of horse racing at the Downs and is open year round, but a must-see while you’re there.

Opening Night kicks off Derby Week with an evening of heart-pounding racing under the lights on April 29th. This year, Tuesday of Derby week is 502’s Day, a nod to the Louisville area code, 502, and general admission will be only $5! 

Champions Day is Wednesday, May 3. This year we’ll be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown sweep. Fifty years later, Secretariat still holds the record for the fastest combined times of all three races that make up the Triple Crown, and is thought of by many as the greatest racehorse of all time. 

May 4th is Thurby. Come celebrate what Kentucky is famous for – bourbon, horse racing and great music with bluegrass music near the paddock and plenty of food and bourbon, of course! If you can’t make it to the Derby, make it to Thurby and you will leave Kentucky with plans to come back. 

May 5th is The Kentucky Oaks. This is the day for the fillies. Fillies can run with the boys on Saturday, but Friday at the Oaks is a race just for them. Ladies, break out your best pink outfit or accessory. Pink is worn to bring awareness to breast and ovarian cancer. Prior to the running of The Oaks, breast and ovarian cancer survivors participate in the Survivors Parade. 

May 6th is the day the horse racing world waits all year for: The Kentucky Derby. It’s the first leg of the Triple Crown and an experience you won’t forget. From the pageantry of the parade of horses in the paddock, to the glorious hats and outfits of the patrons,  the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home” to the PA announcing “And they’re off!”, Kentucky during Derby Week is an experience you need to have. I invite you to come and see my Kentucky.

Now, I need to start looking for my hat for next year! 

Churchill Downs photos provided by © Churchill Downs Racetrack

Forme’ and Judith M Photos provided.