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    Ever wondered why some locals don't go to The Kentucky Derby?  We asked a few


    why they don't attend Derby at Churchill Downs and here's what they told us:

    “Derby is for tourists!”

    The Kentucky Derby is known in the United States as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” and has been run every consecutive year since 1875. So it's no surprise that this event and the two-week long Derby Festival brings a lot of tourists. Louisvillians have to get used to sharing their city for the last few weeks of April and the first week of May. You notice an increase in pedestrians, restaurants seem busier, and traffic is nearly unbearable. But, in our humble opinion, Derby is totally worth it.

    “Oaks is more relaxed and enjoyable and for the locals.”

    In short, it has become a national holiday for Louisvillians. Don’t expect locals to go to work or do anything on May 2 that doesn’t relate to the Oaks. The Oaks has always been considered a prime local event by residents of Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Great crowds of Louisvillians and others from the Kentuckiana area attend the Oaks annually and the infield of the racetrack hosts musical attractions, boardwalk games, and food and alcoholic beverage vendors.

    “Too much traffic.”

    SO. MUCH. TRAFFIC. It’s unavoidable and don’t try to be slick and get around it. Because it will be everywhere. Just be patient and play soothing music in the car, because no one likes road rage. Just sit back in your vehicle and remember a time where there wasn’t any traffic. Wait; there is no such time. Plan extra time to get to and from locations, and drive responsibly (i.e. not after three mint juleps).

    “I would rather watch it on television.”

    Many people have parties at their homes and get friends together to watch the race and the event on television. This means avoiding traffic, crowds, and expense. Get your friends together, get the grill out, go to Kroger at get a pack of Bud Light and enjoy the race from home. This is a much quieter, scaled-back way to celebrate with friends.

    “It’s exhausting!”

    By May 4th, all of Louisville will be extremely exhausted. The tourists, the traffic, the parties, the races, the new's a hard life we live. Get plenty of rest before Derby weekend and spend the Sunday following the race to relax and spend time at home.

    “Tons of walking.”

    This is true. Whether it is walking around Churchill Downs or choosing to park blocks away and walking to Churchill to avoid traffic, you will be walking A LOT. I would recommend wearing comfortable shoes and clothing. This means leaving the 7-inch heels at home, ladies, if you can bear to pair that Derby dress with flats or wedges. Men, wear comfortable suits or slacks, because it will be warm. No one likes a handsome man with pit stains.

    “I have always had to work!”

    Ah, the life of a retail employee (such as this writer!) and many other employees who spend many Saturday’s at work. It is unfortunate be cooped up at work when an event like the Kentucky Derby is happening, but that’s life. Try to make the best of it if you do have to work and know that, (although more than half of Louisville and Southern Indiana will be celebrating at Churchill or with friends at home) you are not the only one.

    “I have a disdain for gambling/drinking/partying.”

    Moral objections to the Derby aren't a new thing, and granted, Derby does seem to make Louisville party central. 

    The nice thing about Louisville is that we have something to offer for everyone: so even if you don’t drink, gamble or carouse, there's still something for you.  

    “Too expensive!”

    This is true. Whether it be purchasing tickets to the many festival events, attending the Chow Wagon, purchasing that perfect Derby dress, having a Derby hat made, renting a suit, paying to get into Churchill (IT IS SO EXPENSIVE!) buying food and drinks at Churchill, gambling...I could go on and on. Clench your teeth and dig into your savings account because spending the money is totally worth it. After all, it only happens one time a year.

    “Too much hassle!”

    Preparing for Derby does involve a lot of time and effort, but it's worth it. Take the time to prepare and start early. The most important thing to remember is to arrange time to get everything together and enjoy yourself. Derby shouldn’t be a hassle, but more of a time to appreciate the city and all we have to offer. 

    “I enjoy Derby Festival activities more.”

    There are so many events to attend in the weeks prior to Derby and many locals enjoy the Chow Wagon, luncheons, and sports classic, along with many more events. There are so many events to attend that by Saturday May 3rd, you may just want to stay home and watch the big race.

    “It is also Opening Day for Holiday World, which is a much more kid-friendly environment.”

    Holiday World is a great amusement park for families and is much more kid-friendly than Churchill Downs, so some locals choose to take the trip to Santa Claus, Indiana to enjoy the weather and opening day!

    “I have a been-there-done-that mentality.”

    We’ve been there, we’ve done that. Once you’ve been once you might feel like you've seen it all. This is true for many locals and a few Derby experiences at Churchill Downs is enough for them. 

    No matter if you do or don't do Derby, the nice thing about Louisville is that there is still something for everyone!Cheers!

    Photo: jessicakirsh /

    Alexis Messmer's picture

    About Alexis Messmer

    2015 University of Louisville graduate. All things social media, marketing, writing, sneakers, photography, music, and a whole lot of coffee.

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