5 Reasons Why Should Attend the Kentucky Derby
— May 1, 2015 — By Erin Spencer —
Most people do not place Kentucky at the top of their “must-visit” list. This is a shame, for the state offers a lot more than KFC and Jim Beam. In fact, in early May every year, Kentucky is home to the greatest sporting event in the entire South — the Kentucky Derby.
This is a bold claim, I know, and I’m a bit biased because Louisville is my home. But trust me: if you make it to the Derby, you’ll thank me.
Here are 5 reasons why you should join me this year and attend the Kentucky Derby:
1. The environment
The environment at Churchill Downs is truly unique. There really is no place like it. With the iconic Derby roses lining the finish line, the luxurious box seats, the rowdy infield in the center of the race track, as well as a general atmosphere that can best be described as Southern “cheer,” the Derby is a spectacle. Several races are deserving of attention. But it all leads up to the final race, popularly dubbed the “two most exciting minutes in sport.”
While I admit that I haven’t won a single dollar for the past five years at the Derby, there was a time when I struck gold by choosing the horse in pink silks. I have no grand strategy, but betting is fun. Of course, I advise you not to be stupid and throw down your last dollar on the races, because you’ll need some extra cash for my next point. But betting on the horses adds to the adrenaline rush. It’s amazing how attached you can become to an animal when a little money is on the line.
3. Mint Juleps
At the Derby, it is imperative that you try a mint julep. Even if you are not a big drinker, try one. This half-mint-half-bourbon concoction has been the official drink of the Derby for many years and is a proud tradition for us Kentuckians. Also, when you order one you will get a pretty sweet collector’s cup as a souvenir!
4. Dressing up
Where else can you wear a giant hat and fancy dress to drink and bet on horses? No where! What a fun tradition to bring out an odd-looking, expensive hat once a year. It provides shade from the sun, and looking at all of the different shapes and colors on display is great entertainment. Check out how cute I was rocking my very first Derby hat back in 2009!
5. A guaranteed good time: The infield
If you are a college student, you should definitely spend the day in the infield. For about $40 you can enter with your coolers, food, chairs, and — naturally— a party attitude. After taking a shuttle from the Cardinal stadium or parking at a friend’s house somewhere near downtown, I am always hyped to arrive at Churchill Downs and walk through the tunnel to reach the infield. The excitement in the air is palpable. It’s here! The best day of the year has arrived! This is a day that you will never forget (unless you have a few too many mint juleps …but that’s the subject for another blog article).