A Derby Story 



The Kentucky Derby is a very special day for my family.

I have so many memories of Derby Day. My family has attended the Derby in the infield for as long as I can remember. When I was in 8th grade my Mom allowed me and my twin sister to go with them. It was like a big picnic. We were so excited.

I grew up in Louisville but moved away after getting married, for my husband’s job. Derby was a good reason to go home to visit the rest of the family. There were a few years that we didn’t come home but always had a Derby party to celebrate with our friends. They weren’t all horse racing fans but it has become a special day for them also.

We eventually moved back to Louisville and while managing a real estate office and in charge of advertising, I was lucky enough to receive an invitation from the local newspaper, Courier Journal, to attend a Derby breakfast and have a two tickets in the grandstands. This seemed very special because my family always went to the infield where there are huge crowds and the races are hard to see. Now my husband and I would have a seat and be able to really see the races.

When getting dressed to go to the breakfast (which is one of the many parties celebrated around Derby) my husband wanted to put on shorts. I told him that this was a special occasion but he insisted. Rather that argue about it I got more dressed up than I would have for the infield but more on the casual side. We attended the breakfast which was a lovely event, great food, drinks etc. I’ll never forget though, a well know politician, also in attendance, walked past my husband and said sarcastically “Nice outfit.” He was the only man there with shorts on. We still had a very nice time at the breakfast.

Then on to the races. We had great seats in the grandstand, close to the track and to the finish line. It was fun but as the Derby got closer, I became very anxious. Before the big race, everyone sings our state song “My Old Kentucky Home”. I knew that in the infield my family was in a big circle singing together. When the song was being sung, I cried, not only because I love my home state and that song but I was truly missing being with my family.

Traditions mean so much to me. So, as nice as it was to experience the Derby the way people other than my family does, I would have preferred to be with my family in the infield.

Mary Lib McFarland – Louisville native and twin to the sister who was in the infield that Derby day.

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