Most of the world is familiar with the Kentucky Derby, but few are aware of the local treasures contained in what is referred to as the Kentucky Derby Festival.
Local schoolchildren in Louisville, Kentucky will tell you that Derby begins with the first day of Spring. As a matter of fact, Louisville does seem to socially blossom around March 21. Around the Earth Day Celebrations in early April, a season of social events that the public is invited to begin. Also at the first of April, the town is overcome by a multiple public Easter events and this seems to set the stage for the 15 days of the Kentucky Derby Festival leading up to May 5.
Most tourists will miss out on these celebration days because they are only focused on the horseracing aspect. Nonetheless, The Balloon Race, The Pegasus Parade, and Thunder over Louisville are one of many 2012 Kentucky Derby Festival events that locals look forward to.
Foodie heaven at the 2012 Kentucky Derby
Foodies of the world can easily overlook the gourmet and luxury lifestyle presence in a small place like Louisville. However, this city is far from a greasy spoon diner. Instead, there are streets in most neighborhoods that are lined with ethnic, fine dining, and unique foodie gourmet with a tiny price tag. Sometimes called The San Francisco of the South, Louisville’s food culture has exploded in the past 20 years. This is due to this community welcoming in new neighbors from the US Government’s Refugee Resettlement Program.
This means that one of a kind dining experiences from a wide range of world ambassadors can be found in Louisville. For example, in restaurant standby neighborhoods like Saint Matthews, the Highlands, and Downtown, you can find Vietnamese, Thai, Middle Eastern, Persian, and East African cuisine. Regardless, your informal high class dining at a low price is found in the immediate neighborhood to the south of Churchill Downs itself.
Now imagine that all of these diverse cuisines and Kentucky Burgoo stew were being served with barbecue on the Ohio River Waterfront Park. During the month of April, this is exactly what happens. The city opens the park for lunch time and swarms of Louisville’s best restaurants serve food at what is called the Chuck Wagon. Locals love it and pay for their food with tickets. Of course, in order to enter the Chuck Wagon area, you must have your official 2012 Kentucky Derby Pegasus Pin.
Locals have a 2012 Kentucky Derby trump card
Most of the time, locals will tell you that they spend the Kentucky Derby working. With so many out of town tourists, there are some families that spend the first weekend in May doing jobs that they only do during the Kentucky Derby. For example, a local bank clerk may be a taxi driver just once a year. For this reason, locals refer to Thunder over Louisville as “the working man’s Derby.”
Of course, this is in spectacular fireworks display and is one of the largest in the world. It is definitely breathtaking and this 30 minute light show changes each year. It is centered on the Waterfront and creates a one of a kind viewing experience. In particular, many people will try to get in on special parties that are close to the action. Naturally, funny stories come out of this strategy drama, but most people are able to view the fireworks as long as they are close to the Ohio River.
There is also the option of going early in the morning to sit on the Waterfront and wait for the show to begin at around 9:00 PM. This is why there are often events such as the US Airforce and their Blue Angels air shows featured over the Ohio River during the day before Thunder over Louisville.
The 2012 Kentucky Derby is for kids too
In general, the Kentucky Derby is definitely an adult event. All of the parties, and the track itself, are known for alcohol consumption and adult behavior. If you have relatives in Louisville, visiting from out of town only to see the Kentucky Derby is not a bad idea if you have kids.
Unfortunately, if you think that the 2012 Kentucky derby on May 4 – 5 is totally kid friendly, think again. Instead, if you want to visit the Kentucky Derby with children, consider attending from April 21 to May 3. Starting two weeks before Derby, the Balloon Race Tour kicks off the kid-appropriate Kentucky Derby Festival.
In addition to art contests and other fun activities for kids, there is the Running Wild Pasta Dinner & Expo, the Hot Air Balloon Race, Great Steamboat Race, the Marathon, and the Pegasus Parade. Along with the Louisville Zoo, the Frazier Arms Museum, the Speed Art Museum, the Louisville Slugger Museum and the tours of Churchill Downs, your kids will not miss out on the 2012 Kentucky Derby race at all.