Kentucky Derby (Super)Festival: A Regional Celebration

What started as a two-minute high stakes horse race has become a two-week festival that celebrates springtime in our region.  And this year is no different, as April found us awash in Derby fever.

While the First Saturday in May traditionally draws up to 160,000 people – royalty, celebrities and just plain folk – to Churchill Downs, many more local revelers will have already been participating in gala events scheduled around the 137th Annual Kentucky Derby Festival.  Enjoying privately held shindigs and having fun at impromptu parties throughout the region, it’s like Mardi Gras, New Years Eve and Cinco de Mayo, rolled into one.

It’s our reason to celebrate.It’s high hospitality, an excuse to dress in our fanciest clothing and a reason to mix Mint Juleps. It’s a magic time when we get carried away with guest preparations and special events. And on Derby Day, with much of our region resembling a ghost town, driveways and streets in front of many a house fills with cars, as another Derby party unfolds.   This year’s theme for the Kentucky Derby Festival is “Superfest 2011.” It officially opened with “Thunder Over Louisville,” which launched a two-week schedule of more than 70 events including the Great Balloon Race and the Pegasus Parade. These events generated millions of dollars to our local economy.

How do you spend the First Saturday in May? What are your traditions for this big weekend? Tell us in the comments below …