18The Kentucky Derby is one of the most anticipated and celebrated horse racing events in the world. It is a true sporting spectacle that captures the attention of millions of people, both avid horse racing fans and casual observers. Held annually on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, this year it will be Saturday, May 4th.
The history and significance of the Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby is not just a race; it is a tradition that dates to 1875. The race is often referred to as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports" due to its fast-paced nature. With a distance of one and a quarter mile, the horses thunder down the track in a thrilling display of speed and endurance. The race attracts top thoroughbred horses from around the world, all vying for the prestigious title of Kentucky Derby champion.
The iconic traditions of the Kentucky Derby
From the iconic mint juleps to the extravagant hats worn by spectators, the race is a showcase of style and glamour. It is an event where people come together to celebrate not only the sport of horse racing but also the traditions and customs that make the Kentucky Derby unique.
One of the most iconic traditions of the Kentucky Derby is the playing of "My Old Kentucky Home" before the race. As the horses make their way onto the track, the crowd stands and joins in singing this heartfelt ballad. It is a moment that gives me goosebumps every time I witness it. This tradition dates to 1921 and has become a symbol of unity and pride for the people of Kentucky.
Another iconic tradition is the fashion that accompanies the Kentucky Derby. Known as a showcase for extravagant hats and bold attire, the Kentucky Derby is a chance for attendees to show off their sense of style. The infield may be where the rowdy partygoers gather, but it is in the grandstands where you will find the most fashionable crowd. From vibrant sundresses to tailored suits, everyone puts their best foot forward on this day.
Of course, no discussion of the Kentucky Derby would be complete without mentioning the iconic drink: the mint julep. This refreshing cocktail, made with bourbon, sugar, water and fresh mint leaves, has become synonymous with this prestigious event. Sipping on a mint julep while watching the horses thunder down the track is a quintessential Kentucky Derby experience.
Don your most extravagant hat, mix up that mint julep and join in the fun at one of these Kentucky Derby events

April 21-Hat Majesty: A Kentucky Derby Hat Decorating Event at 1671 Buffalo Lake Road, Sanford, 2 p.m.
Prepare for race day with a workshop on decorating Kentucky Derby hats! Participate in an afternoon of creativity and fashion as you receive guidance on crafting your own beautiful Derby hat.
Whether you plan to attend the Derby in person or host a Derby-themed event, having a fabulous hat is essential.
They will supply you with a range of materials, including feathers, ribbons, flowers, and jewels, to assist you in designing a hat that showcases your personality and captures the essence of the Derby. Tickets are $85. All tickets include your hat and all embellishments along with a complimentary beverage of your choice. For more information visit: https://tinyurl.com/723k5t4c or call 910-262-1644.

May 4-Kentucky Derby Watch Party! at Stewart's Tavern, 116 N. Main Street, Raeford, 2:30 p.m.
Come and join Stewart's Tavern for an exciting Kentucky Derby viewing event. Enjoy their special offers on classic derby drinks and stand a chance to win a $100 gift card for the Best Derby Hat. The pre-race coverage will begin at 2:30 p.m. For more information visit: https://tinyurl.com/5n6ua4n9, or call 910-479-1313.

May 4-diVine Kentucky Derby Watch Party & Hat Contest at Divineloungenc-390 SW Broad St, Southern Pines, 4 p.m.
Come and be a part of the excitement at the diVIne Lounge in downtown Southern Pines for the 2024 Kentucky Derby Watch Party. Indulge in refreshing $10 Woodford Mint Juleps while immersing yourself in the thrilling atmosphere.
The highlight of the event is the Best Hat competition, where the winner will be awarded a $50 diVIne gift card and a bottle of wine. For more information visit: https://tinyurl.com/e6vmnejp, or call 910-467-7065.

May 4-Horses Benefit Kids Derby Day Barnraiser BBQ, Bourbon & Bluegrass at Weymouth Center Barn, 555 E Connecticut Ave, Southern Pines, 3 p.m.
Come out to the "Horses Benefit Kids" Fundraiser and join in for a special Derby Day Watch Party event. This event aims to raise funds for the WEYMOUTH EQUESTRIANS program, which provides young individuals with the opportunity to learn horse riding and care for horses on the historic Weymouth property.
Indulge in bourbon, BBQ, and bluegrass at the Barn-Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities. Witness the thrilling Weymouth Equestrians Team Show Jumping Invitational from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Teams, consisting of two professionals and two amateurs, will compete on courses laid out on the beautiful grounds of Weymouth Center. Participate in exciting contests for the best hat and best dressed.
There will also be prizes and a raffle for your Derby picks. Raise a toast with wine, beer, and Mint Julep while watching the Kentucky Derby. For more information visit: https://tinyurl.com/5c8wwka8, or call 910-692-6261.

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