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2013 Kentucky Derby Events Calendar

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During the two weeks prior to the Kentucky Derby, Louisville is filled with events, parties and shows. Of course, as Derby has grown in popularity, the Kentucky Derby Festival has grown as well. Now, residents of Louisville and visitors alike can find things to throughout the month of April. Below are some of the Derby Festival highlights. Most festivities are free with a Pegasus Pin, others require tickets.

Thunder Preview Party

When: Thursday, April 4, 5-9 p.m.
Where: Bowman Field
Providing a sneak peek at the Thunder Over Louisville show, the McDonald’s Thunder Preview Party has planes to see, a Coast Guard exhibit, helicopter rides, a family area and a chance to meet pilots. To be admitted, you'll need a 2013 Pegasus Pin or a McDonald’s Thunder Funder cup.

Taste of Derby

When: Wednesday, April 17, 5:30–8:30 p.m.
Where: Louisville Slugger Field
With dishes from over 65 of Louisville's favorite restaurants, a bourbon and wine tasting, a Bloody Mary Contest and a silent auction, this is an upscale cocktail party not to be missed. Even better, all proceeds from the event are donated to the Dare to Care Food Bank. The price of a ticket is $80, $50 of which is tax deductible.

Thunder Over Louisville

When: Saturday, April 20
Where: Louisville Riverfront
Thunder Over Louisville blasts off Derby Season, two weeks of celebration prior to the Kentucky Derby. During the day there is an air show, and once it’s dark, Thunder begins. Fireworks is an understatement, Thunder Over Louisville is a pyrotechnic display.

Kroger's Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront

When: April 25-May 3
Where: Festival Plaza, Waterfront Park
With festivities, food, an inflatable playground for kids, the Great Balloon Glimmer, helicopter rides and more, Kroger's Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront has something for everyone. Stage One Theatre brings performances for the kids and there are events with beer and live music solely for adults.

Chow Wagon at Waterfront Park

When: April 25-May 3
Where: Waterfront Park
As part of Fest-a-Ville, the Chow Wagon is open for beverages, food and music. There will be gospel, hip hop, Latino, country western and rock 'n roll. Have lunch with your coworkers—dine on pulled pork, roasted chicken, brisket with Derby sauce, ribeye sandwiches, gyros, kabobs, Italian meatball subs, funnel cakes, ice cream, fried candy bars, strawberry shortcake, fresh lemonade, fajitas, corn dogs, sausages, Philly cheese steak, hamburgers and more—or head down at night for an evening concert.

Running Wild Pasta Dinner

When: April 26
Where: Kentucky International Convention Center
If you are running Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon (or miniMarathon) you may need to carbo-load the day before. Why not feast among other runners, family and friends? See the latest in fitness fashion while dining on pasta, garlic bread, salad and cheesecake.

Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/miniMarathon

When: Saturday, April 27
Where: Louisville
This annual Marathon and miniMarathon attracts runners from all 50 states. There are over 12,000 participants and enthusiastic crowds cheer them through the parks and neighborhoods of Louisville. The course includes the hills of Iroquois Park and, of course, a run through historic Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby Festival Great BalloonFest

When: April 25-27
Where: Bowman Field, Kentucky Expo and Waterfront
Five events—the Crew Challenge, the Balloon Glimmer, the Balloon Rush-Hour Race, the Balloon Glow and the Balloon Race—make the 2013 Great BalloonFest! All of the following events are sponsored by U.S. Bank, one of the major funders of the Kentucky Derby Festival. It's an exciting event for hot air balloon lovers from around the country.

Great Steamboat Race

When: May 1
Where: Ohio River
Always scheduled on the Wednesday before Derby, the Great Steamboat Race takes place on the Ohio River. The competitors? The Belle of Louisville vs. the Belle of Cincinnati.

Pegasus Parade

When: May 2
Where: Downtown Louisville, on Broadway
First held in 1956, the Republic Bank Pegasus Parade is the oldest Kentucky Derby Festival event. With marching bands, decked-out floats, inflatables, horses and celebrities, it's an event for the whole family to enjoy.

The Kentucky Oaks

When: May 3
Where: Churchill Downs
The Kentucky Oaks is held the Friday before the Kentucky Derby. Kentucky Oaks races three-year-old thoroughbred fillies and covers 1 and an eighth miles. It is also called the "Lillies for the Fillies."

The Kentucky Derby

When: May 4
Where: Churchill Downs
Grab your Mint Julep! It's Derby! Sometimes called "The Run for the Roses" or "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports," the Kentucky Derby races three-year-old thoroughbred horses. The race is one and a quarter miles and is the first of the US Triple Crown.

Got Derby Fever? Do your research and check out the past winners.

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