Monday December 11, 2023
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68 days and counting to this year’s Thunder Over Louisville – the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Opening Ceremonies. The Festival announced the theme of this year’s show and named the event’s sponsors at their headquarters this morning. This year’s theme – “The Wonderful World of Thunder” – will celebrate 30 years of the show with a soundtrack of songs from everyone’s favorite fairytale and animated movies. Horseshoe Southern Indiana, LG&E, Meijer, and UPS return as Presenting Sponsors of the day-long event set for Saturday, April 13.

“The entire show is shaping up to be a magical 30th celebration,” said Mike Berry, Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO. “Thunder Over Louisville is a major undertaking and we’re able to continue producing the show year-after-year thanks to the continued support of our sponsors.”

This is the 29th consecutive year that UPS has been a presenting sponsor of Thunder Over Louisville. Horseshoe Southern Indiana has been a presenting sponsor for 20 consecutive years. LG&E and Meijer have both been Thunder sponsors for the past 13 years in a row.

In addition to the presenting sponsors, Ford Motor Company returns as title sponsor of Ford’s Thunder on the Ground and Papa John’s returns as title sponsor of Papa John’s Thunder Funder program. Logan Lavelle Hunt is the Official Sound Sponsor and The Galt House is the Official Hotel of the event. Thunder Over Louisville’s 2019 Official Broadcast Partners are WAVE 3 News and SummitMedia’s 106.9 PLAY.

The Festival is also planning for another packed air show in 2019. The show will feature the U.S. Army Golden Knights, the KC Flight Formation Team, the 6-ship Trojan Thunder Team, Younkin Airshows and many more. Additional details on the 2019 Thunder Air Show will be released closer to the show date.

Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon 2017

Runners mark your calendars! Registration for the 2019 Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon and Marathon presented by Humana opens on Wednesday, September 12, at 9:00 a.m. EST.  The Festival is kicking off registration at with 24 hours of deals which include: the lowest prices of the season, discounted VIP rates and deals on race gear. Plus, the Festival’s Race Referral Program returns, which could earn runners free registration for the 2019 event. Runners mark your calendars! Registration for the 2019 Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon and Marathon presented by Humana opens on Wednesday, September 12, at 9:00 a.m. EST.  The Festival is kicking off registration at with 24 hours of deals which include: the lowest prices of the season, discounted VIP rates and deals on race gear. Plus, the Festival’s Race Referral Program returns, which could earn runners free registration for the 2019 event.

Said Shanna Ward, Race Director, “Runners looking for the best deals, will want to register during the first 24 hours. It will guarantee their spot in the 2019 race and get them the lowest rates for next year’s event.”   Continue reading

Fans lined the street as the Kentucky Derby Festival’s oldest and inaugural event – the Republic Bank Pegasus Parade – marched down Broadway tonight. Themed “#ThrowbackThursday,” this year’s parade featured over 100 units, including 10 floats, 13 equestrian units, 5 inflatables, 8 marching bands, 2 push floats and 42 specialty units.

Check out the Louisville Dispatch photo gallery of the parade on Facebook.

“It was a great day for the Republic Bank Pegasus Parade!” said Mike Berry, KDF President and CEO. “Fans packed the sidewalks and streets to watch on Broadway. After 63 years, it’s amazing to see how it still brings the community together in celebration every spring.”

Former coaching rivals and basketball fan favorites Joe B. Hall and Denny Crum were the parade’s Co-Grand Marshals. The Louisville City FC 2017 USL Championship Team, along with the Kentucky Colonels served as Honorary Grand Marshals.

Other guests included: Brittany Cartwright and Jax Taylor of Bravo TV’s “Vanderpump Rules/Jax and Brittany Take Kentucky,” Monte Durham of “Say Yes To The Dress:Atlanta,” Montel Williams (actor, television and radio talk show host), Jason Smith of Food Network, Judah and the Lion, Miss Kentucky 2017 Molly Matney and Miss America 2018 Cara Mund.

Several of the units received awards for their participation. Norton Healthcare took home the Addison McGhee Grand Champion Award for best overall float; Shirley’s Way/Ride To Ride Out Cancer won the 2nd Place KDF Board Chair’s Award; Kentucky Proud received the 3rd Place KDF President’s Award; Grand Lodge of Kentucky, Free & Accepted Masons, won the Grand Marshal’s Award for best representation of the theme; Kosair Charities won the Queen’s Award for overall beauty, and Hwang’s Martial Arts won the KDF Parade Chairman’s Award for the most spirit. Louisville Parks & Recreation and Second Chance @ Life received Honorable Mention Awards.   Continue reading

The Kentucky Derby Festival is underway and the Kentucky Exposition Center plays host to four popular events.

Kentucky Derby Festival Race Expo & Packet Pick Up: Thursday, April 26 – Friday, April 27 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. – Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. – Friday More than 15,000 Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon participants and their families stop by this annual event to pick up required information for the two races. During this time, attendees can visit exhibitors featuring fitness resources, tools and apparel. Located in the West Wing and Pavilion.

U.S. Bank Great Balloon Glow: Friday, April 27 6 p.m. Gates open 9 p.m. Glow begins Spectators watch as pilots fill hot-air balloons that glow against the evening sky, set to a special musical score. Visitors are invited to meet the pilots and ask questions. The balloons are parked in Lots C and D.

Thorntons Great Bed Races: Monday, April 30 4 p.m. Official tailgate party 6 p.m. Parade of the beds 7 p.m. Races begin Crowds cheer as teams dressed in costumes push decorated beds in a 600-yard dash to the finish line. Awards are presented for fastest course times, best decorated, most entertaining and more. The races take place in Broadbent Arena.

Republic Bank Pegasus Parade Preview Party Presented by Mega Caverns: Tuesday, May 1 5 – 9 p.m. Open to the public Visitors get a sneak peek at inflatables and floats, complete with dancing costumed characters. Children can also get an autograph or photo of the Derby Festival Queen and Royal Court. The preview party is held in South Wing C.

Admission to all events is free with a 2018 Kentucky Derby Festival Pegasus Pin. Parking at the Kentucky Exposition Center is $8 per vehicle and $20 per bus.

For more information about the Kentucky Derby Festival, visit

With the traditional spin of a wheel Tara Dunaway of Leitchfield, KY, was named the 2018 Kentucky Derby Festival Queen at the 60th annual Fillies Derby Ball at The Galt House. Tara, 21-years-old, is a Junior at the University of Louisville where she is majoring in Business Marketing with a minor in Management. She is a College of Business Student Council Member and serves as the Chairman of Outreach, has been named to the Dean’s List multiple times, and has studied in numerous countries including England and Austria. Tara also volunteers at Portland Elementary and has participated in mission trips to Central America.

This year’s Derby Festival Princesses anxiously awaited the traditional spin-of-the-wheel, performed by Fillies President Glenda Thome. The other members of the court include: Katie Bouchard of Owensboro, KY, a senior at Western Kentucky University; Logan Howard of Louisville, a senior at the University of Kentucky; Morgan A. Redmond of Louisville, KY a senior at the University of Chicago, and Caroline Will of Louisville, a senior at the University of Kentucky.

The members of the Royal Court have been representing the Festival at a variety of events since their selection in January, including Festival Unveiled, the Ford Motor Company Spelling Bee and Macy’s Spring Fashion Show. They were selected as Royal Court members out of more than 130 young women who applied to participate in the program last fall.

Criteria for selection included knowledge of the Derby Festival, poise, intelligence, personality and campus/community involvement. Each woman receives two $1,000 scholarships (one from the Fillies, Inc., and one from the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation) and an official wardrobe.

The Princesses act as ambassadors for the Derby Festival and the city as they represent the community at a variety of functions. The Fillies, Inc. was established to support the Kentucky Derby Festival. Their mission is to organize the traditional Fillies Derby Ball, coordinate the “Royal Court Program,” produce the “Children’s Tea” event, and publish the Official Derby Festival Program. Membership is limited to 250 ladies of our community.

Past Derby Festival Queens include Martha Layne Collins – Kentucky’s first woman Governor, the late Gail Gorski – the first female pilot for United Airlines and a number of other community leaders. Many say their Derby Festival experience helped them prepare for their future careers.

Since 1956, the Derby Festival has worked to bring the community together in celebration. The 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 in a two- week period and has a local economic impact of more than $127 million.  This involvement has made the Festival the largest single attended event in Kentucky and one of the leading community celebrations in the world.

In celebration of the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Opening Ceremonies, Thunder Over Louisville, Four Roses has released a Limited Edition Single Barrel Bourbon Bottle featuring the iconic Thunder Over Louisville logo. Four Roses is also the Official Bourbon of Thunder Over Louisville.

The limited edition bottle, priced at $44.99, is exclusively available now at Cox Smoker’s Outlet and Spirit Shoppe, as well as Cox’s Evergreen Liquors. Thunder fans and bourbon connoisseurs will also have the opportunity to have their bottles signed by Four Roses Master Distiller Brent Elliott and Senior Brand Ambassador and Bourbon legend Al Young.

The signings are scheduled for April 13 and April 18:

  • Friday, April 13 – Senior Brand Ambassador and Bourbon Legend Al Young will be signing bottles at Cox’s St. Matthews from 4 – 7 PM.
  • Wednesday, April 18 – Master Distiller Brent Elliott will be signing the Thunder bottle at Evergreen Liquors from 5 – 8 PM

Thunder Over Louisville – the Derby Festival’s Opening Ceremonies – is one of the more than 70 events produced by the Derby Festival in the spring. The 2018 Thunder Over Louisville, themed “A Disco Thunder,” is set for Saturday, April 21, and will be the 29th annual production.

This year’s Republic Bank Pegasus Parade will be a blast from the past for Festival fans. Festival officials announced the Grand Marshals and set the line-up for the parade at a special event tonight at Mark’s Feed Store. In honor of this year’s parade theme “ThrowbackThursday,” former coaching rivals and basketball fan favorites Joe B. Hall and Denny Crum will serve as the parade’s Co-Grand Marshals. It’s a familiar role for the coaches who also participated in the 1975 parade.

“The parade is the event that started the Festival 63 years ago and this year’s march will be a trip down memory lane,” said Mike Berry, KDF President and CEO. “Who better to evoke great memories than two coaches responsible for nine of the Final Four trips and three of the NCAA championships for UofL and UK.”

In addition to announcing the Grand Marshals, floats and inflatable units participating in this year’s parade drew for positions for annual march down Broadway. This year’s theme of “ThrowbackThursday,” will be used by sponsoring companies to help direct the building of floats and costuming of the inflatable handlers and crew. Participants were invited to pick their favorite parade themes from years past to decorate their units. The floats and inflatables compete for various awards based on originality, eye appeal, theme representation, animation, attention to detail and enthusiasm. Marching bands use the theme to help with musical selection and it is the basis of costume and concept design for the other marching units.

The 2018 Parade will feature 10 floats, many of them built by the employees of the companies sponsoring them. The following companies drew for their float position in the parade at tonight’s event, as well as the sponsors of the five participating inflatable character balloons.

City of St. Matthews
Grand Lodge of Kentucky
Hwang’s Martial Arts
Kentucky Proud
Kosair Shriners/Kosair Charities
Louisville Parks & Recreation
Norton Healthcare
Second Chance @ Life
Shirley’s Way – Ride to Ride Out Cancer
The Fillies, Inc.

Inflatable Balloon Characters:
CareSource “Cookie Monster”
Horseshoe Southern Indiana “Horseshoe”
LG&E “Louie the Lightning Bug”
Republic Bank “Peggy Bank”
Waystar “Star”

Before the parade, fans can see the floats, inflatables, equestrian units and much more on display at the Pegasus Parade Preview Party Presented by Louisville Mega Cavern on Tuesday, May 1, at the Kentucky Exposition Center, in South Wing C. Admission is a 2018 Pegasus Pin.

Tickets for the Parade are on sale now online at Ticket prices are $10 for bleacher seats, $12 chair seating and $30 VIP seats. Republic Bank is the Title Sponsor of the parade with Contributing Sponsor, KentuckyOne Health. Official Hotel: The Galt House.