In the Spring, Kentuckians think about Derby . . .

Please welcome my guest blogger for today, Dianna from The Kennedy Adventures. She got me started blogging and we went to Bloggy Boot Camp in Baltimore together earlier this year, adding our Southern accents to the mix. Thanks for everything, girlfriend!

In Kentucky, everyone knows The Call to the Post. We all love Dan Fogelberg’s Run for the Roses and hearing My Old Kentucky Home brings tears to our eyes.

What do these three songs have in common, at least for those of us native to Kentucky?

One word.


In a state where basketball and horse racing are kings, spring brings an amazing period of celebration. Basketball fans get to revel in the hoopla that is March Madness, then after the National Championships wrap up, it’s on to the fantastic Derby Festival. We know how to throw a party in Kentucky — more than two weeks of celebration leading up to the main event.
Beginning in the early spring, everyone begins asking each other, “Are you going to Derby?”

One year, I got to say, “Yes!”

I met Brett on early in 2005, and we began dating in February. We spent the spring watching Kentucky games at the now defunct Jillian’s, and taking the dog for walks in Cherokee Park.

One day in April, he called me up, saying, “Would you like to go to Derby with me?”

By the grace of God, I managed not to hit the floor. I had been to Churchill Downs before, attending the Kentucky Oaks on three previous occasions with a former boyfriend. Oaks is “Derby Lite” – lots of folks go, but the main event is the real deal!

A flurry of phone calls in addition to a shopping trip, and I had two of the necessary ingredients for a fabulous Derby Day: an incredible date, and (two) adorable dresses! Only thing I needed was a hat.

Looking for a Derby hat? Dee’s Crafts should be your first choice! Simply bring in your dress, peruse the basic hat styles, talk to a designer, and create a custom chapeau. Some gals may say I’m going about it all wrong — some folks pick the hat first, then plan the dress around it. I’m vertically challenged, and you’ll never see me wearing a huge hat. I go for the dress as my primary choice.

First Oaks ever – 2002. Great dress, hat needs help!

Oaks 2003:Added magnolia blooms and ribbon to match on this basic black hat. Score!

Oaks 2004:Loved the dress and hat! First time in blue!

Since I’ve been to Churchill Downs on a number of occasions, I’ve learned some things along the way, that first time attendees to the track may not realize.

Be prepared for anything. See the pictures above? Weather on the first Saturday in May can be in the 80s, or the 50s. Check the forecast, and plan accordingly.
Comfort trumps fashion — take a comfy pair of shoes along with you — you WILL be walking, unless you’re Jessica Simpson.
If you plan to drink — bring plenty of money. Drinks start at $7 and go up. Binge drinking on mint juleps will cost you big time!
Betting is fun, but don’t go completely broke. Set a limit on how much you plan to lose, and then stop when you get to that point.
The infield? No words can describe it, but it’s something you’ve got to see in person at least one time.

Hats, horse races, and mint juleps aside, Derby holds a special place in my heart. For me, the first Saturday in May will always remind me of Brett. Spending time with him that day, in one of Louisville’s most revered and celebrated landmarks, among the sights and sounds of the greatest two minutes in sports, I JUST KNEW. I was confident, I was in love, and ready to start fresh with this handsome man.

Derby Day 2005

Did I know I’d be spending Derby 2006 on maternity leave, holding our sweet baby girl? Did I expect three children in twenty-five months? Not in a million years …… but I wouldn’t change a thing.

On the fence about attending Derby?? Go — you’ll love it, and you just might come home with a husband!

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