14-year-old Ophelia Lorenz of Louisville won her first Ford Motor Company Derby Festival Spelling Bee this afternoon. Lorenz correctly spelled “Chihuahua” – A dog of very small breed developed in Mexico, probably from an indigenous breed, having erect pointed ears and a soft ,usually short-haired dog. The competition was held in the Bomhard Theater at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Allison Whelan of Nelson County, Kentucky, was runner-up in the competition among students from Kentucky and Southern Indiana.
Lorenz represents Jefferson County Catholic Schools and is an 8th grade student at St. Agnes. This was her first time competing in the statewide bee. 57 students from 54 counties in Kentucky and Southern Indiana participated in today’s 26th annual Ford Motor Company Kentucky Derby Festival Spelling Bee, going through 10 rounds and hundreds of words.
“I was very nervous and, honestly, surprised that I made it to the top 5, let alone winning,” said Lorenz. “I’ve been studying the words in the guide to prepare.”
Lorenz believes one of her favorite things to do also helped her get ready for the Bee: “I’ve always loved to read since I was three-years-old, which has opened me up to even more words.”
For today’s win, Lorenz received The Fillies Scholarship Fund, a $10,000 savings bond at maturity from the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation, the Derby Festival’s charitable arm. She also received a Britannica online subscription gift certificate, a copy of Valerie’s Spelling Bee Supplement, as well as Scrabble. Lorenz will also have the opportunity to ride the Winner’s Float in the 64th annual Republic Bank Pegasus Parade on May 2nd.
Allison Whelan received a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond for finishing runner-up in the 26th annual competition. Aathman Bhavaraju of Franklin County, Kentucky, finished third, winning a $3,000 savings bond. Quentin Voigtschild of Lawrence County, Indiana, finished fourth and received a $1,500 savings bond. Briahna Higgins of Logan County, finished fifth, winning a $1,000 savings bond. The prize money is provided by the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation – the Derby Festival’s charitable arm.
The Kentucky Derby Festival Spelling Bee is sponsored by Ford Motor Company, with Contributing Sponsor Texas Roadhouse. Media Sponsors are Kentucky Monthly and 98.9 Radio Now.
The Derby Festival is an independent community organization supported by 4,000 volunteers, 400 businesses and civic groups, Pegasus Pin sponsorships and event participation. It entertains more than 1.5 million people annually. This involvement has made the Festival the largest single attended event in Kentucky and one of the leading community celebrations in the world.