So I'm a Derby Festival Princess. What Now?

Hey y’all! I’m Grace, the gal over at A Southern Drawl --my personal style blog of all things southern, stylish, and awkward.  I’d like to describe my style as preppy, classic, and feminine (yet very much unexpected at times).  My personality, on the other hand, is quite different.  Yes, I may say y’all and may be a George Strait fan, but I’m not the typical southern proper girl.  I come from a large Lebanese family that’s always in your business.  {There’s no such thing as privacy in my family.}  So, pretty much here’s the equation of my life: Lebanese + South = Comedy.  I’m sarcastic, loud, blunt, and despite “popular” belief, I’m not graceful, have no poise, and trip in public daily {if not more}.  Sounds tragic, right? Right.

…and then I became a Kentucky Derby Festival Princess.  Go ahead, gasp.  I was pretty shocked too, to be honest.  But, don’t worry, I’ll give you some background. 

Kentucky Derby Festival {KDF} kicks off with Thunder Over Louisville  {April 12} and consists of nearly 70 events leading up to the good ol’ Kentucky Derby {go baby go!}.  As for the KDF Royal Court {that’s me!}—we act as ambassadors for Louisville and represent the community at all of the functions and Derby Festival activities.  That means we attend nearly every event {and keep in mind that all the princesses are full-time students}.  The princesses are chosen out of more than 100 applicants with two interviews, the last being given by out-of-state judges. How are we selected? Knowledge of the Derby Festival, Poise, Intelligence, Personality, and Campus/Community Involvement.

All of the Princesses; Photo Taken by   Marvin Young

All of the Princesses; Photo Taken by

Marvin Young


So, I’m a Derby Festival Princess.  What now?  First, I wear my crown and pray that I don’t trip and break its precious stones.  Chances are pretty high for that, y’all.  Second, the great sponsors, like Macy’sAnthropologie,Dillard’sGretchen Scott , and many more dress us until we’re looking as fabulous as can be.  {I always love getting to do what I do best—try on clothes and shop}.  Third, we get to be ambassadors for the KDF events and functions and strut our stuff everywhere. A scholarship is also given to us by The Fillies, which is quite the perk too.  So here’s to me {and the other four gorgeous princesses} proceeding through these last couple of weeks without doing anything too traumatizing to the public and to us enjoying every fleeting second of this. Oh wait, and to always remembering that the soup spoon is scooped away from your body and not towards {etiquette lesson of the day}. 

Fairy tales never included princesses taking selfies with the Governor... Pretty cool, eh? {Photo Taken By  Marvin Young .}

Fairy tales never included princesses taking selfies with the Governor... Pretty cool, eh? {Photo Taken By Marvin Young.}

Feel free to stop on by over here to get your daily dose of sarcasm and style from yours truly.  I promise I don’t bite…well, sometimes.


Fireworks just really aren't my jam.

Being outside in a nighttime crowd amidst loud booms and distracting lights just seems like an invitation to be mugged and/or thrown up upon. Now, I can't speak for you, but to me that doesn't sound like all that much fun. And, if you have a couple of dogs (and I do!), then you know that fireworks equal non-stop anxiety for the furry members of your household. Needless to say, the famous fireworks display that kicks off the Kentucky Derby Festival isn't an event that I include in my spring calendar. As I told a friend recently, I need a Xanax or a glass of Shiraz when I just think about Thunder over Louisville.

And so, whenever someone asks me "Are you going to Thunder?", I adamantly reply "You couldn't pay me enough."
image via Voice-Tribune
Over the years, I've played many roles in expressing my hip disdain for Thunder. I've been the smug Highlands-dweller who schedules her Saturday night dinner reservations to avoid the Thunder tourist crowd. I've been the even smugger Former Highlands Dweller who audibly rolled her eyes when friends asked if she was heading to Louisville to see the fireworks. And, I've been the chick who giggles over the so-called Thunder baby boom, because that can't really be a thing, right?

The only problem is that, lately, I'm starting to wonder if I've missed out on something by ignoring Thunder. I have never seen a photo of the display that isn't outright beautiful. And, Downtown Louisville in the springtime is one of the most gorgeous sights I've ever seen. The fireworks always seemed impressive when I'd catch them in the distance from my carefully reserved dinner table or my 8th floor condo window. Maybe it would be even cooler if we were watching from a downtown hotel or office building...

 Maybe all those crowds are onto something.

image via gotolouisville.
What do y'all say? Is Thunder a must-see or a must-avoid for you?

Derby Divide

I read Heather's latest post here about Derby Festival, I sat perplexed. What are these wondrous events that take place in Louisville? As a long-time Lexingtonian, you would think that I knew all about the Derby Festival. Instead, I had the same thoughts Heather shared prior to her Louisville residency:
Is a Chow Wagon more appetizing than it sounds? And Thunder is just a bunch of fireworks, right?
In MY Lexington, which admittedly might have slightly less social flourish than other residents, you can go to Keeneland to watch Oaks and Derby. There is food served of course (burgoo or bread pudding, anyone?), and you can bring your picnic blankets and family to enjoy spring Kentucky weather and betting on ponies without the traffic at Churchill Downs. Dress codes for some of the dining rooms go away and sky high heels make way for ballet flats.

Occasionally, I'll hear of friends who are taking their kids to Thunder. I just assumed it was a big ol' firework spectacle and honestly didn't associate it much with Derby. The Chow Wagon is a new discovery for me this year. Given my affection for food, I'm quite surprised my stomach hasn't heard of it yet. In fact, in a quick glance at the Derby Festival schedule, I've learned there are also volleyball tournaments and races of steamboats, feet (running), and beds. Yes, beds.

Apparently the cultural differences between Lexington and Louisville have yet to span the short 70 miles down I-64. Perhaps next year I will immerse myself in all that is Derby - bed races and pyrotechnics included.

Can any other non-Louisville residents relate to this general gap in knowledge? Or am I stuck in my little Lexington bubble drinking bourbon by myself?

What's the Big Deal about Derby Festival?

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?