We love this reflection from Content Director, Lori Mangum, & echo her sentiments again this year…

There are people who say that Derby is the most overrated event in sports. Even people in its home city criticize the season’s increased traffic, oversaturation of events, waits at restaurants, etc. “all for a few silly races.”

I get where those people are coming from. It’s true that the inundation of visitors for the two-week festival does complicate our lives as Louisvillians. It’s not convenient. But it is awesome & here’s why.
Derby brings people together.

A $6 Pegasus Pin is all you need to enjoy two week’s worth of events. (And some things are truly free.) From fitness classes on the Great Lawn to Waterfront Jam concerts at Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront there really is something for everyone.

What I love most is the diversity of the Kentucky Derby Festival. All ages, races, genders, & nationalities found within our city gather together to share in the experiences of the season. Not segmented into neighborhoods, just neighbors. It’s a beautiful thing.

Don’t believe me? Check this out.

Last week I went to the Fairgrounds to take in the Balloon Glow. There were kids on their parents’ shoulders, eagerly leaning in, & balloon teams explaining the science behind the power of the flames. In one moment I found myself standing with three families talking to the Wonder Bread Balloon Crew. Suddenly, one family shifted from English to Spanish as the father attempted to explain to his young son that the fire wasn’t a dragon, but “food” for the giant balloon. Then another family began sharing exclamations in what sounded like Mandarin, while the third family laughed & joked in English about how little room there was for people in the basket to ride.

I closed my eyes listening to three assumingely similar conversations in three different languages…

On the Fairgrounds at Kentucky Exposition Center…

In Louisville, KY.

Derby brings people together.

Saturday morning I joined the ranks of non-runners to cheer on my more athletically inclined family & friends in the Mini-Marathon & Marathon. Every year we park at Kroger, grab a Starbucks, & set up our chairs in the same place, the corner of 3rd & Central, outside Jim Patterson Stadium. We come with neon signs & cowbells, excited to scream for the people we know who are out there crushing their goals.

As fun as it is to see my Dad, sister-in-law & great friends rocking the 13.1, I get almost as emotional joining with the crowd cheering for people we’ve never met, who just happen to be running & in need of some love to get through the home stretch. Their faces light up to the shouts of encouragement & they take out their phones to video the show of support.

I have no idea if we would get along if we actually met. We could disagree on every issue & have nothing in common. We could outright dislike each other. But for those few hours of running & cheering it doesn’t matter. The runners needed a boost to conquer the distance & the crowd recognizes the need & meets it happily.

People from all over the nation, even the world, lining the streets of The Ville, celebrating the accomplishments of strangers. Not caring who the people are apart from the run.

Derby brings people together.

For that reason (& so many more)…Derby. Is. Awesome.

So, brush off the frustrations & join in the revelry of the season, enjoying the neighbors you might never meet outside of this week. Then walk away from Derby Festival & pursue that togetherness throughout the rest of the year.

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