Some folks say the Kentucky Derby is all about the sport of kings. Those of us who grew up here in Louisville know the real competition at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May is all about the hat. Here is my entry for Derby 134.
If visiting our fair city for the race there are a few things you should know...
1. It is probably best to learn how to pronounce Louisville before coming here, in order to avoid placating sighs. We will accept Lou-uh-vull. We'll even accept (usually under duress) Lou-ee-vull. However, if you put an "s" sound in it we reserve the right to leave your sorry behind at the airport. While at the airport you can pick up a magnet, tote bag, or various colors of t-shirts that will instruct you how to correctly pronounce it. No, I'm not kidding. That question is asked so frequently that we put it on a t-shirt and sell it at the airport. There is a whole section on the Louisville, KY Wikipedia page that explains it nicely as well.
2. Pick your hat before you pick your outfit. I cannot stress enough that it is all about the hat. Men are not required to wear hats, but it is a nice touch.
3. The folks who planned the Kentucky Derby 133 years ago chose the first Saturday in May as the permanent date for the race because up until then the weather was always lovely that day. In the following 133 years it has been lovely a total of 4 times on Derby Day. It has ranged from gale force winds, to flash floods, to tornadoes, to heat waves, to snowing, to plague of locusts. Pack accordingly because it is only a matter of time before it rains toads.
4. The original Doublemint Twins live here and give a celebrity filled party so exclusive that if Lindsay and Britney showed up together, sans undies, with a giant Publisher's Clearinghouse size check they'd be turned away at the door. Several years ago Kid Rock met Pamela Anderson at this party. We have drafted a formal apology for that which can be viewed at our Chamber of Commerce.
5. If you can swing it, get here a few weeks before. The last 3 weeks in April in Louisville is what we like to call The Derby Festival. It is what anyone seeing it from the outside would call the "Gimme a Reason to Drink and Eat to Excess then Run In a Circle Holding a Dali-esque Variety of Objects While Wearing a Garland of Fake Roses" Festival. There are prizes.
6. There is also a parade.
7. And a really big fireworks show over the Ohio River. (which is best when viewed from the Indiana side of the river so you can see our pretty skyline, but you didn't hear that from me.)
8. And an incarnation called The Chow Wagon.
9. And for some reason we race hot air ballons.
10. We're from Louisville and we don't play.
Come see us next year. http://www.kdf.org/ Bring a hat.