These days, most people will tell you that they do not shop for souvenirs when they go on vacation. One exception to this rule is that when people go to New York City; they often buy something from Tiffany’s. However, when you visit Louisville, Kentucky for the Kentucky Derby, you soon realize that you should have taken more money with you for souvenirs.
The arts dictate Louisville souvenirs
Close to the racetrack, most of the businesses in Downtown Louisville are locally owned. Once you peek inside, you start to realize that there is a trend going on in this community. Mainly, the Kentucky economy has favored the artist for decades and it shows. While the local shops and experiences are high end, the rent is not. Most people can afford to live in a middle class environment in Louisville without having a hefty income.
This relaxed environment definitely gives artists plenty of extra income and the space they need to weld, construct, and synthesize some of the most intriguing art in the country. Some areas of America boast an arts and crafts feel, but most of the artists on display throughout Louisville have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in art.
One of the most appealing areas of the city is decorated from businesses within the Glassworks Building. Far beyond stained glass, it is this type of specialization that gives buyers a ‘wow’ experience when they visit Louisville and Churchill Downs for the first time.
You will also see this combined spirit of art and the Kentucky Derby extended throughout the city. In addition to the artfully made Kentucky Derby Festival poster, you will see plastic life-size horses turned into colorful masterpieces. Naturally, there are many commissioned and inspired one-of-a-kind Kentucky Derby collectibles displayed next to other art pieces.
All of this is great for the tourist and buyer – especially considering that most coffee shops in Louisville are galleries.
Specialty bourbons for the Kentucky Derby
Of course, the popularity of bourbon has extended far beyond the state lines of Kentucky. Despite this, most people that visit from out of town for their first Kentucky Derby do not realize that there are many bourbons on sale that have a collector’s item feel. In fact, many companies will change their logo to include an oil painting produced by a local artist for the Kentucky Derby. It will usually have a number on the front that is associated with the race’s succession. For example, the 2012 Kentucky Derby will be the 139th in a row.
The best part is that you will have the opportunity to sample and taste bourbons that you have never heard of before. Some of these are new companies, smaller small batch distilleries you have never heard of, or new blends. In addition to the bottles, there are also the Churchill Downs souvenirs created by these bourbon distributors. In particular, Woodford Reserve often makes a glass especially for the promotion of the Mint Julep for the Kentucky Derby. As local Kentuckians know, a Mint Julep is made with only the best Kentucky bourbon.
Tickets to cherish
When it is your first visit to Churchill Downs, you may not be aware of the tickets you will receive inside the gate. However, you will soon see why they are considered collector’s items. Each year, a new artist is selected to decorate the ticket. Naturally, if you bet on a winning horse, you will also want to save your betting ticket.
Along with the program for the event from Churchill Downs, most tourists will buy a framed ticket picture frame while they are still in Louisville. These become instant collector’s items and may be the most valuable souvenir you own if you get your Kentucky Derby program signed by the winning jockey.
Other unique Kentucky Derby souvenirs
If you visit a tourists’ shop near Churchill Downs; such as A Taste of Kentucky or Why Louisville, you will see that there are a few souvenirs standbys that exist only in conjunction with the Kentucky Derby. For example, locals will show you their extensive collection of Derby glassware.
There are also more generic items like posters, julep glasses, and racing programs of the past. Regardless, some collector’s souvenirs that get overlooked are the Derby Festival Pegasus Pins and limited edition items like snow globes.
Souvenirs just for you
When you are traveling, there will be certain items restricted from the plane. For this reason, you will want to make sure to buy a few Kentucky Derby souvenirs in Louisville that you leave behind when you fly home. A good example is the festive Mardi Gras-style party accessories that have a Churchill Downs feel.
While some visitors to the racetrack celebrate by wearing luxury clothing, others are visiting the rowdy Infield party. Once the track is closed, this festive action is found all over Louisville and lasts for three nights. Thankfully, A Taste of Kentucky and costume shops in the downtown Louisville area tend to have a wide variety of Kentucky Derby party supplies, tableware, and decorations.
A final wise addition to this cache of souvenir shopping should also contain heavy dose of a local Derby pie and bourbon ball bon bons.