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Weird Kentucky Derby Before the Derby: Fan’s View
Visitors to the 2012 Kentucky Derby may be surprised to find locals in Louisville are already tuckered out due to the preceding Kentucky Derby Festival activities.
While this might seem strange, in my experience as a Churchill Downs local, it appears that most of the residents of Louisville are working hard to accommodate tourists on the actual day of the Kentucky Derby. This means that the local population needs to have a festival before the first Saturday in May in order to have fun. Over time, this three-week series of events leading up to the Kentucky Derby has been officially titled as the Kentucky Derby Festival.
New 2012 Kentucky Derby Festival angle
Many outsiders to the Kentucky Derby experience will assume that the festival is another part of the actual Derby Day. In fact, the festival will end this year just as the 2012 Kentucky Derby begins. While it is one big city-wide party, the organizers of the Kentucky Derby Festival are doing something out of the ordinary this year and reaching out for volunteers.
With this in mind, one of the first activities for the festival is the Give a Day event on April 15. According to the KDF.org website, Mike Berry, President and CEO of the Kentucky Derby Festival says, "We literally could not produce our events without a large and dedicated corps of volunteers. We're proud to be part of this important initiative."
Why you might need a Pegasus Pin
There is a small shiny thing associated with the Kentucky Derby Festival that often confuses outsiders. Regardless, between April 15 and the day before the Kentucky Derby on May 4, you will need it for every single festival-related event. In addition to what is listed in this article, there are countless other parties, creative performances, spelling bees, marathons, contests, parades, and community sports events.
This small amulet that gets your foot in the door is called a Pegasus Pin. Found at gas stations, grocery stores, and the festival events, the Pegasus Pin costs $5. Despite how tiny and inexpensive it is, you do not want to underestimate it's value. For example, it is used to gain admission to the foodie-obsessed Waterfront Park Chow Wagon in Downtown, Louisville.
Visiting Louisville before the 2012 Kentucky Derby
If a strange series of events occurred and you missed your chance to book a hotel, flight, or ticket to the 2012 Kentucky Derby—there is still hope. In these cases, locals of Louisville would encourage you not to give up and show up for the Kentucky Derby Festival instead.
Below is a list of some of the events held on two popular weekends before the big day on May 5, 2012. For over 50 related additional festivities, visit the KDF.org website, the event section of the LEO Weekly, and the entertainment section of the Courier Journal.
2012 Kentucky Derby Festival: Weekend of April 20, 21, 22
Friday - The Fillies Derby Ball, They're Off! Luncheon
Saturday - Volleyball Classic, Thunder "After Glow" Party at 4th Street Live!, Thunder Over Louisville fireworks display, Boomtown
2012 Kentucky Derby Festival: Weekend of April 27, 28, 29
Friday - Derby Festival Great Balloon Rush Hour Race, Derby Festival Great Balloon Glow, Running Wild Pasta Dinner & Expo, APASSIONATA "The Beginning": April 27-29, 2012 at Freedom Hall
Saturday - Opening Night at Churchill Downs with the Cliffs Edge Derby Trials race, Marathon, Great Balloon Race, Da'Ville Classic Drum Line Showcase College Fair, Sonic Saturday Featuring Eddie Money, NPC Fitness and Physique Championship, ACO DerbyHole Classic, $1 Million Hole In One Semi Finals, Louisville Youth Orchestra Concert, Children's Tea with the Derby Festival Princesses, GospelFest, Derby Brunch On the River
Need a weirder 2012 Kentucky Derby Festival?
If your need for the bizarre has not been satisfied by this article, keep in mind that Louisville prides itself on being "weird." A popular business association that connects the areas frequented by tourists and locals alike has been dubbed Keep Louisville Weird. After all, organization is needed for the overwhelming array of fascinating permanent fixtures in this city.
For instance, most horse racing fans do not know to visit Cave Hill Cemetery where Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., founder of the Kentucky Derby, is buried .
More from this Contributor:
Maryam Louise is a longtime resident of the Bluegrass State and has lived in the shadows of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky over the past two decades. In addition to being a fan of horse racing, she has also had a chance to get to know jockeys, horse groomers, and betting clerks as an ESL instructor. Currently, she writes for KentuckyDerby.org and relies on her friends in the multiple facets of the equine industry for writing inspiration.
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