It started with "two minutes' and became two weeks. What the "Run for the Roses" is to horse racing, Louisville's Derby Festival is to community celebrations. The Festival is one of the premiere events of its kind in the world. It brings fun, excitement, international recognition and a spirit that is unmatched anywhere. When 1.5 million people gather to celebrate spring and the unique vitality of their community, the focus is on fun and the whimsical.
"We are a community organization of 4,000 volunteers who work all year to provide quality entertainment that brings our entire community together," said Festival Chairman and volunteer Doug Hamilton. Produced annually since 1956, the Derby Festival has become a whirlwind of 70 special events.
The Festival blasts off with the Opening Ceremonies - Thunder Over Louisville, the nation's largest annual fireworks extravaganza! The ensuing weeks of excitement and entertainment promise something for everyone. For sports fans there is basketball, volleyball, football, golf and more. For music lovers the concerts are almost non-stop.
With two-thirds of the Festival events free, families can enjoy numerous just-for-kids activities without stretching their pocketbook. Other highlights include a new full and half Marathon and the Great Balloon Race. The Great Steamboat Race pitting Historic register riverboats is the last of its kind in the world.
From country and rock concerts to the elegant Derby Ball, dance and dress range from frivolous to fancy. The Festival includes several formal affairs, as well a casual, foot-stomping good times. More than just entertaining, the Derby Festival generates over $93 million annually for the local economy. Festival events also raise nearly $300,000 for area charities each year.
The Commonwealth's largest single annual event, and one of Louisville's most popular entertainment attractions, the celebration is produced by Kentucky Derby Festival, Inc., a private, not-for-profit civic organization. For details on this year's events, visit the Kentucky Derby Festival Web site at http://www.kdf.org.