Keep track of the season's festivities with your guide to Louisville's 2012 Kentucky Derby parties [Horse racing]



  • Taste of Derby Festival

WHERE: Louisville Slugger Field

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

HOW MUCH: $80 per person ($50 is tax deductible)

This fourteenth year for the Taste of Derby Festival, large enough to occupy Slugger Field, will feature one-of-a-kind dishes from more than 65 Louisville restaurants, rare small-batch brands from liquor vendors, a silent auction, and wine tasting. As always, all proceeds will benefit the Dare to Care Food Bank.


  • Kentucky Derby Festival’s Great Balloon Glimmer

WHERE: Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront

WHEN: 8:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

HOW MUCH: Free with a Pegasus Pin

Also called the “mini-glow,” the Great Balloon Glimmer serves as the kick-off to the U.S. Bank weekend-long Great BalloonFest. The early evening is the perfect time to see scores of gorgeous balloons bathe the Waterfront Park lawn in light.

APRIL 26-27

  • BB&T Kentucky Derby Festival Running Wild Expo

WHERE: Kentucky International Convention Center

WHEN: 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. on Thursday and 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Friday


This two-day expo is taking advantage of the running craze that has overcome Louisville over the past few years, and is giving Marathon and miniMarathon runners in particular a sneak peek at the newest running gear and pre-race tips.


  • Kentucky Derby Festival Great Balloon Rush Hour Race

WHERE: Bowman Field

WHEN: 7 a.m.

HOW MUCH: Free with a Pegasus Pin

Take time out from the morning commute to see fabulous and colorful balloons race for glory. This is the first of two balloon races on a schedule designed with busy spectators in mind.

  • Kentucky Derby Festival Great Balloon Glow

WHERE: Kentucky Expo Center

WHEN: 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

HOW MUCH: Free with a Pegasus Pin

This event attracts almost as many fans as the Great Balloon Race itself – more than 50,000 flock annually to see grounded balloons smolder and shine to a special soundtrack and chat with pilots.

  • ​Derby Museum Gala

​WHERE: Kentucky Derby Museum

​WHEN: 6 p.m. – 1 a.m.

HOW MUCH: $50 – $125

​See the elegant side of Churchill Downs days before any races begin. The Kentucky Derby Museum Gala is held in the shadow of the twin spires and donates all of its proceeds directly to the Museum's endowment fund.


  • Kentucky Derby Festival Great Balloon Race

WHERE: Bowman Field

WHEN: 7 a.m.

HOW MUCH: Free with a Pegasus Pin

The grand finale of the Great BalloonFest is back after a brief hiatus last year, due to inclement weather, and promises to be as big and thrilling as ever for the whole family.

  • Derby Marathon/miniMarathon

WHERE: Starts in downtown Louisville (Preston Street and Main Street)

WHEN: 7:30 a.m.

HOW MUCH: Free for spectators

The miniMarathon, in its 39th year, and the 11th annual Marathon will start and end in the same area and wind through some of Louisville’s most scenic parks, thoroughfares, and neighborhoods. In a much-applauded move, the traditional course has also been revised to allow for better traffic flow.

  • TheSlice: Spice, Style, and Soul

WHERE: St. Augustine Church (1310 West Broadway)

WHEN: 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

HOW MUCH: $50 (includes Pegasus Pin)

This event to benefit organizations and fund scholarships in West Louisville and to honor Louisville’s visionary black leaders will include some of the best food and live entertainment in town.

  • Sonic Saturday with Eddie Money

WHERE: Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront

WHEN: 9 p.m. – 11 p.m.

HOW MUCH: Free with a Pegasus Pin AND for Marathon and miniMarathon runners who show their medals

The artist behind such hits as “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Take Me Home Tonight” will be at the Waterfront for one night only to entertain Marathon runners and casual rockers alike.

APRIL 27-29

  • Apassionata

WHERE: Freedom Hall

WHEN: 7 p.m. on April 27, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on April 28, and 3 p.m. on April 29

HOW MUCH: $25-$175

Apassionata is the most popular live entertainment show in Europe and boasts more than five million fans across the globe. The four-show Louisville engagement kicks off an eighteen-month nationwide tour, and will showcase more than 40 exotic horses and breeds rarely seen in North America.



  • Derby Brunch on the River

WHERE: Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing

WHEN: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.


Take a trip back in time to the Louisville of yesteryear at the Farnsley-Moremen Landing, where live jazz performances and horse-drawn carriage rides will add a sense of nostalgia to the typical Derby brunch.

  • GospelFest

WHERE: Chow Wagon Music Stage on the Waterfront

WHEN: 2 p.m. – 11 p.m.

HOW MUCH: Free with a Pegasus Pin

Performing choirs will hail from Cable Baptist Church, St. Stephen Baptist Church, Bates Memorial Baptist Church, and more, and the winner of the step/dance competition in the early afternoon will win the opportunity to open for George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at RhythmFest.

  • Louisville Youth Orchestra Concert

WHERE: Iroquois Park Amphitheatre

WHEN: 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

HOW MUCH: Free with a Pegasus Pin

Four Louisville Youth Orchestra ensembles will perform free for fans in one of Louisville’s most beloved outdoor venues, the beautiful Iroquois Park Amphitheatre.


  • Discovery Day

WHERE: Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront

WHEN: 11 a.m. – 1 :30 p.m.

HOW MUCH: Free with a Pegasus Pin

PNC and the KDF have joined forces to create an event designed specifically for the youngest Derby revelers, meaning it will feature a ton of interactive and educational activities for children, inflatable playgrounds, and a dynamic Stage One performance.

  • Kentucky Derby Festival Great Bed Races

WHERE: KFC Yum! Center

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to tailgate; parade starts at 6:15 p.m.

HOW MUCH: $130 per race team (includes 5 t-shirts and 5 Pegasus Pins) and free for spectators with a Pegasus Pin

This somewhat bizarre Derby event, sponsored by Stock Yards Bank, sees teams of five race beds on wheels in madcap costumes. Prizes like “Cone Eater Award” and “Most Entertaining” will be awarded after the race, and proceeds will benefit the Kentucky Derby Foundation.

  • HappyTail Hour

WHERE: Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront

WHEN: 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.

HOW MUCH: Free with a Pegasus Pin (pets allowed on leashes)

Seize the opportunity to let your four-legged friends enjoy the Derby festivities with you during this “cocktail hour,” the only Derby Festival event that welcomes pets on the Waterfront. Be sure to check out Metro Animal Services' S.P.O.T. mobile adoption unit, which will be on site with adoptable animals.

  • Race for Grace Charity Dinner

WHERE: Churchill Downs (Millionaire’s Row)

WHEN: 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

HOW MUCH: $150 per person and $1,200 for tables of 8

The annual fundraising dinner for Kentucky Race Track Chaplaincy, a ministry benefiting track workers, will welcome former NFL quarterback and current sports commentator Terry Bradshaw as its keynote speaker. Stick around for live entertainment, a silent auction, and Pat Day spotting.

  • Knights of Columbus Charity Dinner

WHERE: Galt House (Archibald Cochran Room)

WHEN: 6 p.m. for cocktails; 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. for dinner

HOW MUCH: $40 for dinner plus $10 (optional) for post-dinner reception

Dinner, cocktails, and entertainment are all being provided by the Knights of Columbus to raise money for the mentally handicapped community. The Dean Eagle Memorial Award will also be presented to a person “who has excelled in the promotion and coverage of the Thoroughbred racing industry.”


  • Parade Preview Party

WHERE: Kentucky Expo Center (South Wing C)

WHEN: Private group tours 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.; open to the public 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.

HOW MUCH: free with a Pegasus Pin; $8 KEC parking fee

Care to avoid the crowds at the actual Pegasus Parade, but still hoping to catch a glimpse of the spectacular floats that will be on display? Come to the KEC to get a sneak peek at the troops of equestrian units, bands, costumed characters, and, of course, mobile units that will be taking downtown Louisville by storm.

  • Ramble for the Roses 5K

WHERE: Iroquois Park

WHEN: 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. (walk starts at 6 p.m.)

HOW MUCH: $20 for adults and $10 for children

A more relaxed option than the Derby Marathon or miniMarathon, this non-competitive 5K is appropriate for the entire family and has more of a carnival feel, with inflatables, rides, and booths lining the paths of Iroquois Park.

  • Texas Hold’em Tournament

WHERE: Belle of Cincinnati (docked at Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront)

WHEN: boarding at 5 p.m.; tournament starts at 6 p.m.

HOW MUCH: $15 for guests; $125 for buy-in (includes $10,000 in chips and special event pin); $40 for $4,000 chip add-on during the first hour of play

It wouldn’t be Derby season without a little gambling, and this tournament promises $6,000, a custom winner’s bracelet, and a $550 buy-in and VIP ticket to the Danny Crum and Robert Williamson III Celebrity Derby Poker Championship on May 3 at the Seelbach.

  • RhythmFest with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic

WHERE: Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront

WHEN: 9 p.m. – 12 a.m.

HOW MUCH: Free with a Pegasus Pin

Dr. Funkenstein himself will be performing live on the Waterfront with his perpetually evolving backing collective, Parliament Funkadelic. Come hear the funky stylings of one of the largest bands ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.