The Kentucky Derby

by BrendaReeves

Every year, on the first Saturday in May, the Kentucky Derby is held at Churchill downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Kentucky Derby, also known as "Run for the Roses" brings billions of dollars to the city of Louisville. Although the race lasts only two minutes, the citizens of Louisville start celebrating two weeks before the race with Thunder Over Louisville, the largest annual pyrotechnics display in North America.

Thunder Over Louisville

Let the Celebrations Begin

The largest annual pyrotechnics display in North America kicks the Kentucky Derby celebrations off. To demonstrate just how big it is, try to imagine this: eight tractor trailers filled with nearly 60 tons of fireworks shells; 250 tons of launching tubes, some as high as 10 feet with a diameter of 1 and 1/2 feet; two million pounds of sand for packing the firing tubes on 1,800 feet of barges; almost 700 miles of wire cable connecting 20 firing boards are tied to the command post for synchronization to the music. The Zambellis are the largest fireworks family in the world, and this is the largest show they perform each year.

The Great Balloon Race

The Great Balloon Race is one of five balloon festivals. It takes place the Saturday before the Kentucky Derby. The event occurs very early in the morning, but that doesn't keep thousands of people from attending to see dozens of colorful balloons racing.



The Great Steamboat Race

Three days before the Derby the Great Steamboat Race takes place on the Ohio River between Louisville and Jefferson, Indiana. The competitors are the Louisville Belle and the Cincinnati Belle. Thousands of people line the river banks to watch this exciting race. The Louisville Belle

Derby Parties

Those are just three of the over than 70 events that take place leading up to the big day. In addition to organized events, Derby parties take place in private homes all over the city. It's a fun time to get together with friends and indulge in Derby cuisine.  Derby parties are where you'll taste the best of Southern cooking. Menus vary from hostess to hostess,  but there are three items that every Derby hostess must offer her guests:

  • Mint Julep
  • Derby Pie
  • Bourbon Candies

Derby pie is made with nuts, chocolate chips and bourbon. Of course, the mint julep is made with bourbon also. Why so much cooking with bourbon? Kentucky makes the best bourbon in the world, and it's one of the most known and respected distilled spirits traded worldwide.

The Big Day Arrives

Now I'm going to show you a video of the 2010 Kentucky Derby. My dog Jasper is a big fan. The dog you hear barking is Jessie, my golden retriever. Jessie's also a fan. Watch it until the end. Jasper leaves the room for a moment and comes back. I'm not sure if Jasper's horse won or Jessie's; see if you can tell and include your vote in the poll.

Jasper Watching the Kentucky Derby

Whose Horse Won the 2010 Kentucky Derby

Updated: on 02/21/2012, BrendaReeves
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Mark on 03/31/2013

Nice informative article. However, your quote of "billions of dollars" each year coming to Louisville for the race is obviously an exaggeration.A fun one, though. I'd love to see data to prove that "billions" is made.

BrendaReeves on 03/10/2012

Louisville is a beautiful city, Mladen, with a lot going on; especially at Derby time.

Mladen on 03/10/2012

Great manifestation! Oh I want a ride in one of those balloons! :D
I hope I will have opportunity to visit it in future. Fingers-crossed!

BrendaReeves on 02/24/2012

It is a lot of fun.

Marie on 02/24/2012

I'd love to go on that steam boat - looks real fun.

katiem2 on 02/21/2012

I love the Kentucky Derby, I went with a friend in college for the first time, they were from Louisville, we were in the midst of it all down on the ground in field, WOW there was nothing like it, loved the derby since.

janices7 on 02/21/2012

Love watching the Derby every year and seeing it in person is on my bucket list. I had no idea they had a balloon race the week before so thanks for sharing the info.

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