I pride myself on knowing my city. Ask me about the best Lenten fish fry or where to get a dynamite local sour beer & I’ll shoot you a quick reply with confidence. (The answers are St. Augustine on the West End & Mile Wide Beer Co. by the way.)
Then on a Wednesday afternoon in February, at the offices of my friends at Live in Lou, one little word changed everything…Sherby.
“Surely you Sherby, ” Megan Mayer said with confidence. But, alas, I did not know what a Sherby was or if I did it or not. EPIC FAIL.
She went on to describe the most amazing street party scene I have ever heard…& I used to live in New Orleans. Sherby was a night, Derby Eve to be exact, when the residents of Sherwood Avenue in The Highlands invited anyone & everyone looking to Derby like a local to join them in rockin’ revelry.
I had to know more & hear the story of how this annual street shindig came to be, so Megan set me up with John Launius, Sherby Co-Founder & one of the current organizers of the event. From the moment I said, “So, tell me about Sherby,” John’s eyes lit up with pride & excitement.
“Basically, we (the Sherwood Ave. neighbors at the time) wanted to host something for ourselves & our friends that would be a local alternative to a day at the track or fancy affairs. After all, Derby is ours & we should enjoy it.” The first year was one band, some beer & casual free fun.
Now, nine years later, Sherby has grown to an all day affair, boasting corporate sponsorships, dozens of local beverage vendors, food from Traveling Kitchen, LA Tino Food Truck & Louisville Dessert Truck, PLUS a main stage featuring seven local/regional bands!
They didn’t set out to create this scale of celebration, but they love that this donation-based event has now raised over $100’000 for local charities, & is both doing good & adding to the local love for Derby season.
In fact it was a bootlegging charge around 2013, when the ABC showed up on Sherwood, that prompted the formalization of the event. Kevin Jaggers, attorney & fellow Sherby Co-Founder, helped the crew navigate the charge & it was eventually dropped. “That’s when we realized that it was something people were going to want more & more of, so we needed all the permits & partners we could get to make it great,” said John.
Despite big name associations like this year’s top sponsors, Bulleit Bourbon & Alltrade Property Management, Sherby has remained a casual experience & everyone is welcome. You’ll see everything from shorts & tank tops to full on post-Oaks wear, but everyone is into the music & enjoying the food & drinks together. The music includes everything from bluegrass & country to hip-hop, & Sherby-goers enjoy other live performances like the Squallis Puppeteers. You’ll also recognize Kentucky’s Largest Disco Ball on site, owned by Alltrade the Team Sherby & used at events around the state each year to build hype & raise funds.
Funding has always been a creative accomplishment, with the first three events being covered by private contributions & limited donations. Now, a more than reasonable $5 suggested donation will get you in & the experience is kept alive by awesome sponsors like Smirnoff, Captain Morgan, Mile Wide Beer Co., Production Simple, Doo Wop Shop, Destination Lou, Move Real Estate Group, & Diamond Cut Entertainment.
Decor has been an evolution of eclectic fun over the years, too. Once it was all Fourth of July, because, “That’s all the event people in town had after the big stuff cleaned them out of horses,” John said with a laugh. When The Event Co. merged with another company, Sherby was able to purchase their Derby decor, but they promise to still have enough randomness to keep it interesting.
Coming to Sherby also means feeling good about having fun. In the past the team has invested in Volunteers of America along with various other local groups. This year’s non-profit beneficiaries include returning group Mama to Mama, Hand in Hand Ministries, & Kentucky’s Largest Disco Ball. Representatives from each will be on site sharing information & gratitude for the support.
By now you should be convinced to make Sherby your Derby Eve destination. We recommend bringing out of town friends as well, so they can see the spirit of The Ville & come to love our city the way we do. Who knows, they may even catch the fever & decide to move here…it has happened at Sherby, maybe more than once. **Cough*** James Reid ***Cough***
We will be there will bells on, soaking up the Louisville love & we hope to see you there!
A HUGE thank you to our friends at Live in Lou for letting us in on this local gem!