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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

Mayor Greg Fischer and Ocala (Florida) Mayor Kent Guinn today made their annual wager on the Kentucky Derby, placing a bottle of Woodford Reserve bourbon and Ocala brandy on the line.

This is the fifth year of the friendly wager between the mayors of the two cities, both of which are steeped in thoroughbred tradition and consider themselves spirited rivals for the status of Horse Capital of the World.

Mayor Fischer this year picked Mendelssohn to win the 144th Kentucky Derby and make the time-honored walk to the infield Winner’s Circle. Mendelssohn was bred in Kentucky and is trained by Irish-based trainer Aidan O’Brien at Ballyldoyle Stables.

“It would be trainer Aidan O’Brien’s first Derby win, and he’s overdue because he’s one of the greats. And my grandmother was Irish, so it’s a sentimental favorite for me as well,” Mayor Fischer said.

Mayor Guinn chose Magnum Moon because he was trained in Florida under Todd Pletcher, who won last year’s Derby. Mayor Guinn said he vowed a year ago to bet on a Pletcher horse and predicted Magnum Moon would emerge victorious.

Last year, Mayor Fischer’s choice, J Boys Echo, trained by Louisvillian Dale Romans, finished 15th, and Mayor Guinn’s pick, Classic Empire, finished fourth.

“The road to the Kentucky Derby begins in Ocala, FL, Horse Capital of the World. This year is no different with 17 of the 19 horses having ties to our city,” Mayor Guinn said. “This annual bet with Mayor Fischer has become a tradition I look forward to, and it’s a fun way for us to unite the equine industry. We hope this will finally be the year that one of our horses is victorious!”

Mayor Fischer bet a bottle of Louisville Brown-Forman Corp.’s Woodford Reserve, the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby. Mayor Guinn again bet Marion Black 106 —the Spirit of Florida Tangerine Brandy, distilled by Fishhawk Spirits of Ocala.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming Mayor Guinn and his return to Louisville for the Derby,” Mayor Fischer said. “Ocala likes to think of themselves as the horse capital of the country. Of course, everybody knows that’s not true. But we’re compassionate here in Louisville, so we’re playing along with it.”

The Kentucky Arts Council invites Kentucky schools to be part of the fun and excitement of the Kentucky Derby by decorating canvases for the Governor’s Derby Celebration.

Picnic tables on the Old State Capitol grounds will be fitted with horse heads and tails, and the canvases, or “Derby blankets,” will be placed over the tabletops like a blanket over a horse. Any Kentucky school, public or private, can participate.

Schools must provide their own supplies to complete the project. Blankets need to be 36 inches wide and 60 inches long and made of durable, water resistant material. Paint must be outdoor latex and able to withstand inclement weather.

There are no theme requirements, but painted canvases must be sent to the arts council by April 23 for consideration to be part of the Governor’s Derby Celebration. The arts council reserves the right to select which canvases to display at the event, but each blanket will appear in an online slideshow on the arts council website as well as on arts council social media platforms. Schools that participate are acknowledged at the celebration.

Ship blankets to:

Kentucky Arts Council
1025 Capital Center Drive
Third floor
Frankfort, KY 40601

For more information contact Jean St. John at or 502-892-3124.

The Kentucky Derby Festival is looking for participants for next year’s Republic Bank Pegasus Parade. 2018 marks the 63rd annual parade, which will march down Broadway on Thursday, May 3. The application process for groups interested in participating in the parade opens online today.

Click here to see photos from the 2017 Pegasus Parade.

The Festival is looking for participants in the following categories: Equestrians, Specialty Unit, Marching Band, Inflatable and Float. Parade Participation Guidelines and Applications can be downloaded at The application deadline is January 31, 2018. For more information about participating in the parade, contact Event Manager Zach Fisher at (502) 572-3853 or

The Pegasus Parade – the Derby Festival’s oldest founding event – is one of nearly 70 events produced by the Kentucky Derby Festival in the spring and provides an estimated economic impact of more than $22 million. Each year, the annual spectacle steps off at 5 p.m. and marches west on Broadway from Campbell to Ninth Street.

Republic Bank is the Title Sponsor of the parade with Contributing Sponsor, KentuckyOne Health.

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.

Kentucky Derby Festival has a lot of reasons to celebrate today! Louisville’s annual civic celebration received 37 top honors at the International Festivals & Events Association’s (IFEA) Convention and Expo in Tucson, Arizona. The Derby Festival won the Bronze Grand Pinnacle in the “Best Overall Festival Program” category, tying with Destination NSW (The Rocks, NSW Australia). The “Patronato de la Feria Estatal de León y Parque Ecólogico” (León, Gto. Mexico) was runner-up with silver and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (Philadelphia, PA) won gold. The Grand Pinnacle is the IFEA’s highest award. The Festival competes each year against other major festivals and events from around the world.

The Festival also received 36 Pinnacle Awards – 17 Gold, 9 Silver, and 11 Bronze in various categories for events, media relations, advertising campaign, sponsorship and merchandise.  The IFEA is the premiere association that supports festival and event professionals worldwide. The Pinnacle Awards competition recognizes the best special events, festival materials, promotions and ideas in the festivals and events industry.

“It’s both humbling and rewarding for all your hard work to be recognized by other special events professionals,” said Mike Berry, Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO. “The Pinnacle Awards are a reflection of tremendous support provided by our board, sponsors, volunteers and the community as a whole.”

More than 2,000 member festivals compete for the annual IFEA awards. The Kentucky Derby Festival competes with among the ranks of the Indy 500 Festival, Seattle Sea Fair, Destination NSW (The Rocks, NSW Australia), Celebrations, Ottawa, Inc. (Ottawa, ON Canada), Memphis in May International Festival, National Cherry Blossom Festival, Gimje Horizon Festival (Gimje-si, Jeollabuk-do South Korea), Portland Rose Festival, Pasadena Tournament of Roses, Fiesta San Antonio, Philadelphia Flower Show and Pacific National Exhibition (Vancouver, BC Canada).    Continue reading

Photo: B4L website

Approximately 100 bicycle parking spaces will be available during Derby Week at Wayside Park near Churchill Downs, thanks to a partnership between Bicycling for  Louisville and Louisville Metro Parks and Recreation.

Bike parking will be free of charge at the park, which is located in the 3100 block of S. Third Street, on Thursday (Thurby), Friday (Oaks Day) and Saturday (Derby Day). No motorcycles will be allowed in the parking area, and cyclists who leave their bikes at Wayside Park should bring their own locks, as the park will not be monitored during those three days.

The bike parking option gives those interested an alternative way to get to avoid high parking fees and traffic congestion when going to the track.

“We’re hoping a lot of people use this option — as a way to save money and time, but also as a fun way to get to and from Churchill,” said Chris Glasser, Executive Director of Bicycling for Louisville. “Taking a bike to the track ends up being a far more convenient option than sitting in traffic all day.”

Wayside Park has a historic tie-in with cycling in Louisville. In 1897, the Cycle Carnival – a huge bicycle parade that included about 10,000 cyclists viewed by 50,000 spectators – passed Wayside Park en route to Iroquois Park from Broadway.

The Louisville Bicycle Club has adopted Wayside Park under the Metro Parks and Recreation Adopt-A-Park program.

“The park has a very interesting history as it relates to cycling in Louisville, and we’re pleased to be able to call attention to that once again,” said Seve Ghose, Director of Metro Parks and Recreation. “It’s great to be able to use it in this fashion during Derby Week.”

Mayor Greg Fischer endorsed the idea too, noting that it’s a way to promote health and have fun, though he cautioned Derby go-ers to “hold on to your hat!”

Photo: Kentucky State Parks

My Old Kentucky Home State Park in Bardstown will open “The Race is On” exhibit on the traditions of the Kentucky Derby on April 18.

The new exhibit includes items from the world-famous horse, Secretariat, including his winning Preakness Stakes flower blanket garland, winning bets, and racing silks from Secretariat’s horse farm “The Meadow!” Also, see costumes worn by Diane Lane​ and  John Malkovich and props used in Disney’s hit movie “Secretariat.”

There are also items from 2015’s Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah, including Zayat Stables LLC’s silks, and more.

See My Old Kentucky Home’s “Kentucky Bowl,” a trophy carefully and exquisitely handcrafted in crystal by the world-famous Steuben glass works, designed by Sidney Waugh, a member of the original “Monuments Men” that helped to save priceless works of art during WWII.

“My Old Kentucky Home” will be performed on each tour by the park’s guides.

Visitors can also enjoy imaginative and over-the-top Derby hats and seersucker fashion on display in the mansion’s parlor, in addition to My Old Kentucky Home’s own set of coin silver mint julep cups made by William & Archibald Cooper.

Learn the story of how “My Old Kentucky Home” became the official post parade song of the Kentucky Derby and My Old Kentucky Home’s horse racing history that connects the 200-year-old farm to virtually every Kentucky Derby winner in history!

This exhibit will be open through May 31.

The exhibit is included in the regular ticket price for the regular Federal Hill mansion tour. Adult prices are $12 with discounted pricing available for seniors, children, military, and groups. Tours begin on the hour, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (Last tour starts at 4 p.m.)

My Old Kentucky Home also offers a golf course and campground. The park is located at 501 E. Stephen Foster Avenue, Bardstown, KY 40004. For more information, call 502-348-3502.