How to Celebrate Kentucky Derby 2013 in Central Kentucky

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As every horse racing fan knows, Kentucky Derby celebrations aren’t confined to Louisville.

Calumet, by Ian Davis

Central Kentucky comes together for the Derby with events before Derby in Lexington, Midway, Versailles, and Frankfort. In Lexington, JustFundKy celebrates the Kentucky Derby on Derby Eve with their inaugural fundraiser,  “Night of the Phoenix,” at the Grand Reserve on Manchester Street from 8pm to 1a. Tickets are $125 and proceeds from ticket sales and auction bidding will go to fund equality projects and grants in the state of Kentucky. Go to www.justfundky.org for ticket sales and more details. Will this be the heir to the Madden Derby Eve party that Lexington has been looking for? Time will tell.

Starting on Friday, May 3rd, Keeneland invites the Bluegrass to spend Oaks Day in the Equestrian Room Dining or on the Keeneland Clubhouse Lawn with the 4th Annual Martinis on the Lawn for Filly Friday. Tickets for Martinis on the Lawn are $40 and starts at 3:30 to 7:30.

On Derby Day, Keeneland’s Derby Bash starts at 10:30am at the Entertainment Center and Keene Barn and goes on all day. In Keeneland proper, the dining rooms are open with several dining options, TVs to watch simulcast racing, and activities for children.

Midway First Friday for May 3rd, 2013:
First Friday at Kennydid features the photographic art of Alexey Stiop, a Russian-born photographer now living in Georgetown, KY. Music provided by Chris Bowling and refreshments will be available. Extended hours due to The Kentucky Oaks. Midway is the place to be for First Friday.

Fashion Filly in Midway will celebrate the 139th Running of the Kentucky Oaks during the evening with refreshments and new products.

Lexington’s Kentucky Horse Park is hosting the family-friendly Derby Days on Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4, 2013. This is a new event in celebration of Kentucky’s signature event for 139 years, the Kentucky Derby and gives guests a chance to see living Kentucky Derby-winning thoroughbreds up close.  In addition to the activities going on inside the park, drive-thru wagering will be available for Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby. Derby Days is open with the Kentucky Horse Park’s daily regular hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

The Governor’s Office and Downtown Frankfort

Saturday in the State Capitol of Frankfort is always a Derby Tradition.

Now in its third year, Governor Beshear and his wife, Jane, have taken the Governor’s Derby breakfast and turned it into The Governor’s Downtown Derby Celebration, Frankfort’s community-wide celebration of the Derby on Broadway with local businesses and museums opening their doors, local restaurants serving Derby favorites, activities for children, Kentucky artisans, as well as Kentucky music on the Jim Beam stage.

First Lady Jane Beshear says of the move downtown, “It’s reinvigorated.  Engaging local businesses and community members allows the people of Frankfort to truly decide what the Governor’s Downtown Derby Celebration is about, and we support the community in any way we can. The celebration also brings in many Kentuckians from outside of Frankfort and holding the event downtown gives the community a chance to showcase its many wonderful stores, restaurants and historical sites in a festive way.”   Mrs. Beshear says: “To me, one of the best parts of having this event downtown, it’s more family-oriented than it was previously.” Activities for children include The YMCA ‘Derby Dash’ for ages 2 to 12 on Broadway, stick horse races across the Old State Capitol Lawn, Derby hat making, inflatables, and Salato Wildlife Sanctuary will bring furry and feathered friends. At Broadway Clay children can throw their own pots in their studio for $5. Melanie Van Houten, owner of Josephine Sculpture Park, has a children’s art activity planned in the Meeting Room of Completely Kentucky, also on Broadway. The Kentucky Historical Society sponsors two of the popular activities, the stick horse races across the Old State Capitol lawn and the Derby Hat Making.  Julia Curry, Special Events Manager for the Kentucky Historical Society says “As many adults as children want to make Derby hats!” She also commented that they make 500-800 paper Derby hats during the celebration. Along with the activities on the Old State Capital lawn, the Thomas B. Walker History Center, the Kentucky Military Museum, and the Old State Capital will be open and free to visitors during the Downtown Derby Celebration as well. The Capital City Museum will bring a retired racing thoroughbred to visit. Disturbingthepeace will be on Ann Street next to the Capital City Museum and has pony rides for kids too. On a similar vein, the Kentucky Horse Park will offer carriage rides down Main Street in Frankfort on Derby Day.

“Pedal for the Posies”

Dubbed “the second most exciting 2 minutes in sports,” by Stuart Harrod, owner of Folk Bike Recyclery on Lewis Street, this bike race appeals to the kids and the kid at heart. Stuart and Brittain Skinner, Executive Director of Downtown Frankfort Inc., for local businesses to get in the limelight and to get people downtown. “It’s a fun social event that is more of a spectacle than serious” says Stuart. Pedal for the Posies involves local Frankfort business representatives riding very small kids’ bikes supplied by Stuart and Folk Bike ReCyclery to the participants who then ride these bikes down Broadway for 1.25 miles, the same length as the Derby. Stuart says “It’s really taken off; people decorate their bikes and dress in costume to celebrate.” The winner receives a trophy made of bicycle parts. Only in its second year, Pedal for the Posies is a community favorite. “Pedal for the Posies is the best event of the Governor’s Downtown Derby Celebration,” says Rachael Peake, owner of Capital Cellars. Melanie Van Houten, manager of Completely Kentucky concurs, “It’s a lot of fun down here.”

Downtown Frankfort—the Community

Downtown Frankfort has many shops and restaurants that open their doors and welcomes everyone into their businesses with creating special projects, sales, food, and demonstrations. At Completely Kentucky, Kentucky artisans will be on hand to demonstrate jewelry making and William Rogers from Harrodsburg will carve wood. On the lawn of the Old State Capital, picnic tables get decorated with Derby themes; Jim Beam sponsors the music venue where local musicians play live music; Kentucky artisans demonstrate their work. Carlos Ceballos, assistant manager at Serafini comments “it’s lively in downtown Frankfort with music playing, people eating at Derby tables. It’s just part of the Kentucky Derby tradition.” Leah Duvall, also assistant manager for Serafini, loves “all the Southern Bells dressed up walking by.” Lizz Taylor, owner of Poor Richard’s Books, loves the RJ Corman Kentucky Derby Dinner Train: “The passengers are dressed in their Derby garb and it’s fun to people watch.” Audrey Hammond, co-owner of Broadway Clay, also favors the train, “Something so romantic about it. I’m a sentimental native, “ she laughs.

Brittain Skinner, Executive Director of Downtown Frankfort, Inc. says: “Derby Day is when all eyes are on Kentucky. It’s our day to shine.  Whatever your Derby tradition–whether you’re headed to the track in your finery, celebrating the race at a party, or even just cheering the ponies from your couch–the Governor’s Downtown Derby Celebration is the perfect way to kick off Derby Day and to be part of our Commonwealth’s moment in the spotlight.”



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