A significant part of America’s culture, the Kentucky Derby is one of the most prominent horse racing events in the United States, unlike other less traditional animal races…
From its birth in 1875 and all the way to the somewhat controversial 2019 Kentucky Derby, the iconic event has provided the entertainment that every horse racing fan could wish for.
With the 2020 race coming up, we thought of taking a look at the special traditions that have become an integral part of the event.
The Run for the Roses
A strong tradition of the race is the award of red roses garlanded on the winner. The first time this happened was in 1896 when Ben Brush was given a garland of white and red roses for winning. The red roses captured the spirit of the game and became the official flower of the game in 1904.
Now, we can’t picture the Kentucky Derby winner without the shower of red roses anymore!
The Hats of the Derby
The Kentucky Derby is an event of glitz and glamour. You can see men and women wearing attractive headgears and hats to the event. The traditions started during the first year when the creator of the race, Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr, wanted to add a bit of sparkle to the event.
He encouraged the women to dress up and arranged picnics on the ground during the race. Over time, the rich and wealthy started flocking to the derby in their best appearance that almost always included fancy hats.
A Sip of Mint Julep
For over a century, the crowd at Kentucky Derby has been sipping on cool and tasty Mint Julep as the horse’s race on. The traditional recipe consisted of sugar, mint, bourbon, and water. The drink is provided in a pewter or silver cup to the people enjoying the race.
Did you know that the Mint Julep became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938?
My Old Kentucky Home Song
The Kentucky Derby is also responsible for contributing to the state song of Kentucky. Penned by Stephen Foster, “My Old Kentucky Home” was first sung in 1852, and went for official publication in 1853. The song captures the imagination of an enslaved person about the natural beauty of the state and his feelings of being a part of it.
This was a part of the Derby tradition since 1921 and since then went on to become the State song in 1928.
The Party at the Infield
The Infield at Kentucky Derby may not offer a great view of the race, but sure is a great place for partying. People dress up in all sorts of outfits and have a gala time while the horses compete with each other. The crowd consists of people of all kinds and ages, offering a great cultural melting pot!
Which Derby tradition is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.