Derby 101

May 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Louisville during the last three weeks of April and first week of May is busting at the seems with activity. Kentucky has what is called The Derby Festival. It begins with Thunder over Louisville. It is the largest annual fireworks display in North America. Thunder is a huge all day event where people drive hours, sit in traffic for hours and cook outside for this event. It is a huge ordeal here. I did not go to Thunder this year because of school, but it is such a blast. People camp out the night before on the great lawn by the Ohio River in order to get a great place. Before the sun goes down, everyone spends their time watching the Air Show, (which is a bunch of fancy airplanes doing tricks) eating, drinking and running into all kinds of old friends while making new friends.

After Thunder, Louisville has so many events that lead up to Oaks and Derby Day. We have a balloon race, a bunch of hot air balloons that race each other. There is a Chow Wagon, booths that sell fair food, where bands come and play. A boat race that was post-pone this year due to flooding. Two days before Derby there is a Pegasus Parade and then at night there is all kinds of balls and galas where the celebarities come and discuss horses.

Every first Friday in May and the day after the Pegasus Parade is a race for fillies (young, female horses) called the Oaks. It is not uncommon for every business/court system/most schools to be closed this day. The Oaks is all about the women. Girls go out together and the boys let them play. The following day is Derby Day. Derby is all about the fashion, mint juleps, watching for the celebrities and hats…lots of hats.

There are three different places to go at Churchill Downs during Derby: Millionaires Row, Backside and Infield. If you are wanting to be with the elite, good food, nice restrooms, lots of famous people and expensive beverages, then you go to Millionaires Row. This is where my parents use to go because of my father’s career. I loved hearing the stories from my mom about her deep conversations with Kid Rock and Pamela Lee. Or how Melissa Joan Hart was not very happy to be in Kentucky. It was always neat.

As I got older, it was more exciting to actually go to the Derby. Kentucky does not have huge nightclubs, great dance halls or major bars; the nightlife is sometimes a drag. During April and May though, you better believe that every weekend is filled with events. I soon learned the place to go when you were looking to party with young people was the Infield. This is party central. If you are not looking to spend a lot of money on tickets, drinks or food, head to the Infield. The tickets are cheap, the outfits are not as over the top but still stylish but the drinks on the other hand are still a little steep. One beer is easily 10 dollars. So, this is what you do….sneak your drinks in. I know, really shady, but you have not even heard the worse of it. The security is tight during Derby, if you are a guy, you want to bring a girl with you. Why? Simple, she has a bra…you would be surprised how much liquor you can get into your bra when it is an “emergency.”

(derby two years ago)

As for the Backside, all I know is that it is a happy medium between Millionaires Row and the Infield. This will be where the Mister, his best friend and his two kids and myself will be this year. Derek, the Mister’s best friend, has the hook up. His wife, Carrie, works at Churchill Downs. She is getting us passes for the Backside. If I am correct, the Backside is for the friends and family of the individuals that work there. It is a little cleaner than the Infield and apparently the restrooms are legit. I am excited to see what this is like and fingers crossed I pick a winner!


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