The 142nd annual Kentucky Derby just took place in Louisville, Ky. and 167,227 people attended. To people living in Louisville, the Kentucky Derby is more than just a horse race with big hats and lots of roses.
The Kentucky Derby is a huge part of the culture for the city of Louisville. It makes the state what it is. It is such a vital part of the culture in Louisville that the city hosts a month-long party that is open to everyone with a “pegasus pin.” The party is called the “Kentucky Derby Festival.”
At Thunder Over Louisville this year, which is one of the events that kicks off the Kentucky Derby Festival, 500,000 spectators watched the fireworks and air show from the Louisville and Southern Indiana area. Thunder over Louisville has become the nation’s largest fireworks display annually. This year, Churchill Downs brought in $196.2 million on Derby day alone. Students in the Louisville area get the day before Derby off from school, which is the running of the Kentucky Oaks. What looks to be two minutes of horse racing and betting, is actually months and months of excitement and preparation for people living in the Kentucky area.
Besides Kentucky Fried Chicken and bourbon, horse racing is what Kentucky is known for. When talking to people from out of the state about Kentucky, they automatically ask about the Kentucky Derby. The first thing that comes to their mind is horse racing.
The children in Kentucky are raised to know and love horse racing. The Louisville International Airport is Derby themed. The first thing you see when you enter the city is many pictures of beautiful horse farms and jockeys racing to the finish line. The city is centered around two minutes.
The people outside of the state only get a small glimpse with what is broadcasted on the news. This year was my first time attending the Kentucky Derby and it was so different from what I imagined. On the news and SportsCenter, you see jockeys and horses and women in large, bright hats. There is more depth to the event than that.
At the event, you hear the vendors yelling and trying to sell their last mint julep. You smell the bourbon and the sweat of people dressed in fancy clothing. You feel the pain in your feet as you try to spend your whole day wearing heels. You can sense the passion in every word as the crowd sings along to my “Old Kentucky Home.” The Derby is just much more than what you see on screens.
The Kentucky Derby is a tradition that continues to entertain and shape so many people in and out of the Kentucky community. It may only seem like two fleeting minutes to you, but it’s the prime focus for the small state of Kentucky.