From the Garland of Roses to the Derby Hat Parade, the Kentucky Derby is an annual extravaganza which attracts an average of 150,000 attendees every year. But just because you won’t be seated alongside the elegant elite — including everyone from royals to rock stars — on Millionaire’s Row doesn’t mean you can’t get in on the fun of the event dubbed “America’s Greatest Experience” by Forbes.
Read on for an overview of the Kentucky Derby, along with a roundup of reasons why you should throw a bash of your own this year.
The 411 on the Kentucky Derby
The inaugural Kentucky Derby race was held in 1875 with just 15 thoroughbred horses and 10,000 onlookers. Celebrating its 143 anniversary this May, the country’s preeminent horse race — the first in the coveted Triple Crown, which also includes the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes — has grown to become known as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports.” And while the race itself may be done in 120 scant seconds, Louisville’s action-packed Kentucky Derby Festival runs for two straight weeks leading up to the race.
Also known as “The Run for the Roses,” the Kentucky Derby culminates with the draping of the winning horse in a floral blanket made of red roses — the equivalent of winning a crown. The winning horse also takes home the Derby trophy.
Over the years, the Derby has also become a premier destination for the rich and famous, who occupy the prime seating in Millionaire’s Row, which offers a finish line view, food service, a full bar, and other upscale amenities. Presidents, professional sports players, and a long list of other celebrities take in the Derby from this high-end angle.
Throwing a Kentucky Derby Party
The Kentucky Derby is a time-tested tradition — as is partying in its honor. While not everyone will make it to Churchill Downs this spring, we can think of no better excuse to don your most festive attire, gather all your favorite people, and enjoy the action from the comfort of your own home. NBC makes it even easier to get into the Kentucky Derby spirit by televising all of the action. Just tune in on the 6th from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to immediately set the mood. Also, be sure to have some copies of the lyrics to “My Old Kentucky Home” on hand so guests can join the crowds of Churchill Downs in singing along as the University of Louisville marching band kicks things off.
While there are many different ways to throw a Kentucky Derby party, they should all have at least one basic thing in common: a suitable level of swank. For many, it begins and ends with fashion. Derby dressing is all about donning your spring best, including everything from seersucker suits and fedoras to vibrant dresses and over-the-top hats. (Think Vineyard Vines, which is the official style of the Kentucky Derby.) Just make sure your guests know that Derby attire is the expectation by including it on your invitation.
The Foods of the Derby
Also essential for any successful Kentucky Derby? An abundance of high-end eats and free-flowing drinks. According to a Churchill Downs press release, some serious eating takes place during the event. In a single year, in fact, the crowds consumed:
- 142,000 hot dogs
- 18,000 barbecue sandwiches
- 11,520 gourmet sausages
- 13,800 pounds of beef
- 9,700 pounds of chicken
- 560 roasted turkeys
- 1,892 sheets of Derby Pies
- 30,000 cookies
Lucky for you, all of this and much more is available courtesy of gourmet mail order food company FoodyDirect. After all, why spend your entire party slaving away on food in the kitchen? FoodyDirect offers a scrumptious solution to every host’s dilemma: how to serve up the very best food without missing out on the fun.
Meanwhile, the Kentucky Derby’s official drink is the Mint Julep, a refreshing iced drink comprises bourbon, mint and a sweet syrup. Over one Derby weekend, roughly 120,000 Mint Juleps were served. But another drink outsells even the Mint Julep: Beer — 425,000 cans worth, to be exact. In other words, make sure to stock up on plenty of libations, as well.
If you’ve been training to end up in the winner’s circle this year with your Kentucky Derby party, one thing above all else may give you the inside edge: Including FoodyDirect as part of your party planning process. Browse our mouth-watering barbecue, along with an extensive inventory of foods and food gifts to start planning your Kentucky Derby menu today.