Derby Day Is For Kentuckians

 Churchill Downs statue

I’ve never been to the Kentucky Derby. I hope to go someday, but if I never do Derby Day will still be a special day. Someone stated that Derby Day is like St. Patrick’s Day for Kentuckians. I think this is right. It’s especially true for those of us in the Kentucky diaspora. Derby Day is Kentucky Day.

Derby PieOn the first Saturday in May the nation’s attention is focused on Kentucky. Southern staples like big hats and seersucker are encouraged. That can’t be a bad thing.

On years when my family has its act together we invite friends over for a Derby party. On years like this year (not having our act together), we at least pick a horse to root for and eat our homemade version of Derby Pie (not endorsed by Kern’s Bakery, owners of the copyright) and Kentucky Hot Brown (one of the world’s perfect foods). Derby Pie is a chocolate chip nut pie, made with pecans or walnuts. The Hot Brown is an open faced sandwich—developed at Louisville’s Brown Hotel—made with bread, turkey, ham, bacon, tomato, cheese and bechamel sauce. The highlight of the day is the singing of Stephen Foster’s “My Old Kentucky Home”, greatest of state songs.

Hot Brown

That was Derby Day as celebrated in Alabama. As it happens, good friends Todd and Cherie had a chance to attend the Derby this year. With their kind permission, here are some of their pictures, including a couple from Friday’s Kentucky Oaks when the weather was much better.

Aristides Garden

Calvin Bore at the Oaks

And hats

Hat 1 Hat 2


Steffi Graf

Not all hats are as successful.

Derby Hat 3

Then there’s the seersucker.

Derby Seersucker

Oh, yes. And the horses.

Derby Horses Running

Leave a Reply