When I got invited by Kentucky Tourism to experience the Kentucky Derby for the very first time, I didn’t realize that I would be a witness to history. As far as the race itself is concerned, Rich Strike stunned the crowd with an incredible come-from-behind victory in the most exciting two minutes in sports. The crowd of nearly 150,000 people were visibly surprised as a horse with 80-1 odds crossed the finish line, beating out the top favorites.
Part of the appeal of going to the Kentucky Derby is getting to observe the fashion. I splurged a bit and purchased a fabulous 3-piece suit for the event and was presented with a custom designed hat from The Hat Girls to wear. The Hat Girls were the official hat designers of the Derby and although my hat was more simplistic in nature, the looks they created for the 3 female journalists were a lot more elaborate and truly works of art.
The Kentucky Derby was only part of my weekend long experience. We made the Embassy Suites in Lexington our home base while we explored the region. I had never been to the city, and it was nice to see how LGBTQ friendly it was. They even have a rainbow crosswalk in the heart of downtown.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a visit to Kentucky without making some stops along their famed Bourbon Trail. We decided to swing by Four Roses Distillery for a full tour and tasting of their delicious bourbon. I enjoyed their Small Batch bourbon so much that I felt inclined to purchase a bottle to take home.
The Lexington area is known as the “Horse Capital of the World,” and we had the opportunity to visit Sun Valley Farm in Woodford, Kentucky to interact with some of their beautiful horses and learn about the farm’s thoroughbred breeding program. We visited at a very special time as many of the horses had just given birth to foals a few months earlier.
The highlight of the evening was a black-tie gala hosted by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) and his wife at the Kentucky Historical Society. The invitation-only event for about 300 of the Governor’s closest friends featured fun music, delicious food and plenty of Bourbon.
Speaking of bourbon, the wonderful chefs at Kitchen Table at the James B. Beam Distillery were nice enough to prepare a hearty meal for us after the Kentucky Derby in addition to letting us bottle our own Knob Creek bourbon to take home.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect during this visit, but it was an experience that I will never be able to replicate, nor experience again in the same manner. Being one of only four journalists invited really made the weekend very special.