Cultural Experience | Kentucky

Calling all race fans! Attending the KY Derby this year?

Grab your hats and bow-ties cause there is lots to do at the Kentucky Derby.

By Hannah Heine, University of Dayton

Louisville, Kentucky is busy during the spring, and the celebration culminates on the first Saturday of May each year. Louisville is known for it’s horserace, The Kentucky Derby and this year is the 140th running. If you are like my friends from out of town who “ooh and ahh” over the thought of getting all dolled up with your big hats to sip on mint juleps all day, then don’t delay and get yourself to Louisville this year to see what the hype is all about!

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There are a few ways of going about attending the Kentucky Derby and basically they all depend on how well you handle crowds (actually you should stay home if you don’t like crowds) and how much ca$h money you have at your disposal. (Isn’t everything centered around money anyways?!) Right, so first I’d say get a group of your pals together and decide on what you want to do for tickets. Your options:

General Admission – This gets you to the ground floor including the paddock & the infield. This is the least expensive option. [Keep in mind, the infield is not covered and if the weather is bad it turns into a massive mud slide.] You can still see the horses parade around before going out to run the race and people watching is an all time HIGH here on the first floor. You do not have an actual seat through general admission.

Get yourself an actual seat – You’re going to be dropping a couple hundred dollars (starting around $260) unless you have some connections. However, you are opening up the option of going upstairs (the ticket you purchase will dictate how many floors you have access to) and finding more coverage if it were to rain along with an actual seat. Furthermore, if you are going for the “classy” Derby experience, this is where you would need to start.

Now you have your ticket and you are putting together an itinerary for your time in Louisville. The city is also undergoing a gastronomic boom-so make sure to factor in some yummy delicacies at the local eclectic hot spots. {Suggestions: Hammerheads, Eiderdown, Hillbilly Tea, Doc Crow’s, The Holy Grail, Garage Bar, Coal’s Pizza, Heine Brother’s Coffee, Wild Eggs}

While planning you will want to figure out a way where you don’t have to park at the track. Figuring out a ride would be ideal where a service or friend could drop you off, or you can park at the nearby Papa John’s Stadium or the Exposition Center where there are shuttle buses that will pick you up and transport you to the track and back throughout the day.


What do I wear?  Ladies- I’m sorry to say, but yet again we have a more difficult time. Guys always get it easy don’t they? They just throw on pants, shirt, a coat, and their hardest decision is what tie to wear. “Bow tie or neck tie?!” Ladies you need a comfy, cute, & springy dress along with a hat to match &  shoes that are going to hold up for a day on your feet while also providing some comfort. (Is that possible? I vote wedges!)

When the day has finally come for you to experience the 2 most exciting minutes in sports my advice is this:

  • Get your hands on a program so you can make informed betting decisions.. and make bets, it’s fun!
  • Order at least one Mint Julep (When at the Kentucky Derby, do as the Louisvillians do..) and keep your glass! {Mint Juleps come in the year’s official glass Derby cup which you can keep.}
  • Make an entire day of it and go early. What most people don’t know is that the Derby is not the only race of the day. There are still a normal amount of races that day and the Derby race is just one of them. So go early and make a whole day of it- you won’t regret it!


Hannah Heine

University of Dayton | 15 stories

Virginia born, Kentucky raised, and Spain living. Currently living in Southern Spain as an English Language Assistant. A graduate of The University of Dayton with dual degrees in Spanish and Public Relations. I fell in love with southern Spain during my semester of study in Seville & before coming back to USA after my studies I decided to circumnavigate the globe for three months. I then went on another 50 day backpack trip and ended up living in Spain! I consider myself a world traveler, videographer, (striving) calligrapher, and blog enthusiast just beginning to scratch the surface of the adventures life has to offer.

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