|Image via Kentucky Derby Festival.|
I'd been living in Louisville for a couple of months when April rolled around. Suddenly, the questions started coming from colleagues and clients:
"What are you doing for Thunder?"
"Have you eaten at the Chow Wagon yet?"
"Have you bought your Pegasus pin?"
Now, before I moved to Louisville, I thought I knew Derby. I'd been to the race itself, of course. I even knew that Louisvillians considered Oaks to be THE must-see race rather than its next day Big Brother. But the Derby Festival events left me perplexed. I knew I'd seen framed posters for Festivals past; they're inescapable in offices and family rooms in the Louisville Metro area. Still, I had no idea what the events entailed. Why would I wear a $3 lapel pin from Kroger? Is a Chow Wagon more appetizing than it sounds? And Thunder is just a bunch of fireworks, right?
After living through that Derby season, I learned that Derby Festival is one of those events that separates true Louisvillians from visitors. The Pegasus pin is not only a key to admission at the Festival's events; it's symbolic of a fourteen-day celebration of the Derby City itself. Before Louisville becomes overrun with celebs and race enthusiasts, it fetes its own natives with steamboat races, parades, concerts, and fireworks. It's a two-week party that unites Louisvillians from a variety of backgrounds and interests.
|Image via Thunder Over Louisville|
By the following April, I was far better-versed in Derby Festival events. When Thunder Over Louisville kicked off the season, I knew that the private parties in downtown office buildings were a more comfortable and enjoyable alternative to mingling with the massive crowds that congregate for the fireworks show. Since my beau and I aren't much for big, rowdy crowds or fireworks, we learned to time our dinner reservations to avoid the Thunder madness. We even found that we could watch a good bit of the fireworks display from our Highlands condo. As we fell into a few Derby Festival routines of our own -- Oaks brunches, the Chow Wagon, cocktails at the Seelbach -- we found that we weren't just celebrating the Greatest of all Horse Races. We were celebrating the fact that Louisville is a great place to live.
Have y'all attended any Derby Festival events?