Marrying a man who grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, I had some catching up to do. The time came to “do Derby right.” We splurged on a couple of pricier tickets to both Oaks and Derby Days, and got decked out. But, half of the fun are the many events leading up to the Derby as part of the Derby Festival.
With the skyrocketed prices in the area during this Derby season, we were so very grateful to Kevin’s family who hosted us at their houses, fed us, and offered drop-off/pick-up services to the big event.
Myself, Kayla, and Renee before the Great Steamboat Race:
We made it to the waterfront in the backyard of a mutual friend just in time to watch the Belle of Louisville win the Great Steamboat Race
At the party, we got a wee bit silly, instigated by feeling both a little awkward (we didn’t know many people), and after noticing the height discrepancy between Renee and me when I was wearing my super tall high heels:
The next day, we went to the riverfront park, where there were carnival-type food booths and live music. Unfortunately, all of this was at carnival-level prices, too, so we just treated ourselves to one or two carnival-style meals. We couldn’t resist the hilarity of the super-corndog, which was actually a really long skewer with 3 normal hot dogs on it! Amazing.
We spent some time gathering decorations at the craft store and assembling our hats for the Derby:
…and socialized by night. This picture is Kayla at the helm of a boat for which Renee’s boyfriend is the primary operator and caretaker. It was such a cool yacht!
Now… for the horses! I was so excited, and I was so glad we spent the money to “do it right.” Our seats had great visibility of the track, all you can eat food and drinks, including the commemorative cups/glasses! It was an experience I would recommend to anyone!
So, as it turned out, Oaks Day benefits the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer fund, and people usually try to wear pink. On Derby Day, because of the “run for the roses,” people wear more rose-themed outfits. Well, I tell you what. I didn’t have a clue about these traditions when I bought my dresses; I just bought what looked comfortable and cute and on sale at Forever 21 online! Sometimes, things just go your way and you have to love it.
At the entrance to Churchill Downs, in front of the Secretariat statue, on Oaks Day:
The view from our seats, with our official tickets:
My very first bet that I have ever placed in my life! Chump change that just made things a little more exciting:
On Oaks Day each year, a famous watch company sponsors a “fashion show”-style event, where all the ladies decked out in their Derby Best, strut their stuff on stage in hopes of winning a very expensive watch and having their photo taken for an ad. Being the “I’ve got nothing to lose” type, I went ahead and entered with the probably 150 other women. Sure, why not? It was fun and exhilarating and I’m sure I didn’t even stand a chance. But it was a blast. 🙂
And now, for Derby Day:
Wouldn’t you know it, my really good friend, Mollie Reichard, with whom I coached at Ohio University, went to Derby this year, too, and we were able to meet up briefly in the crowd for some hellos and pictures! It was especially neat because she already knew Kayla from having visited us in Colorado, when Kayla took us whitewater rafting!
Our “seat neighbors” were so much fun, and had the same seats for both days, like we did. We had a blast. They were recently retired, and were at the Derby to check it off the bucket list. No better time than NOW!
I have to mention that we bet on the winning horses for the big races on both Oaks Day and Derby Day. Yay! Tiny, insignificant bets, but still so much fun. I do feel like I got the full experience, and hope I get the chance to go again sometime.
After the Derby, we connected with some of Kevin’s close friends from growing up, who still live in the area. What happens in the late hours of old friends hanging out is some pretty comical stuff… involving old yearbooks!!
This particular friend admitted to circling the names of all the “cute senior boys” in school this particular year… apparently, she had her eye on Kevin! Hilarious.
One festivity that was pretty special was that Kevin’s parents hosted a dinner for all his old friends in the area, so we made a lot of friendly connections all in one night, and all under one roof. Well, under one roof until we decided to take advantage of the great weather and play some cornhole and frisbee outside. The problem with these types of gatherings is that there is TOO much good food, and I was still in guilt-free gluttony phase, so it got to the point of the obligatory pregnant photo!
Gluttony-turned-“pregnancy:” Always a favorite end to a delightful vacation.
Thanks for reading and sharing in the delight of my first Kentucky Derby! What a blast….
Thanks again to our wonderful Cole hosts!