the prancing

Pomp and Circumstance – The Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is just around the corner and even if you’re not a gambler (we’re definitely not), it’s still hands down one of those American experiences we all need to have at least once in our lifetime.
kentucky derby

When Jason and I decided to make the Derby a part of our 2014 it wasn’t on a whim. It’s something we’ve talked about doing ever since we took off on this perpetual road trip, shoot, to be honest we’ve dreamed of going to the derby since our sticks-and-bricks days.  We want to see, and experience, all that makes our country what it is…and to us, the Kentucky Derby seemed as American as baseball, apple pie and bourbon.

We’re not into horses (other than the fact they’re beautiful animals), racing or gambling.  So you may be asking: Why go? What’s the draw? and What the heck did you do?  Well, see for yourself:

Quite the spectacle right!  We always say we’re participants, not spectators but this is one of those rare events where we were both (and happy to be).  We couldn’t help ourselves, it was as if everything and everyone was on display.  As you might have noticed, it’s hands down the best people watching ever!

kentucky derby

crazy infield

the prancing

There really is something about this grand event that feels like a piece of Americana, almost like a rite of passage for any American traveler.  So, should you choose to embark on this adventure yourself, here are a few of our Derby recommendations.


Derby Dates & Cool Facts

The Kentucky Derby is held annually in Louisville, Kentucky at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival.

The 141st running of the Kentucky Derby will be run Saturday, May 2, 2015 with a $2 million guarantee.

This is the oldest continuously held sporting event in America and one of the most prestigious horse races in the world.  It has run every consecutive year since 1875.

The attendance at the Kentucky Derby ranks first in North America and usually surpasses the attendance of all other stakes races including the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, and the Breeders’ Cup.

kentucky derby

kentucky derby


Which Derby Tickets to Buy?

We were incredibly lucky that Churchill Downs liked our story, and what we do, enough to approve our request for media passes.  This gave us a rare chance to get a glimpse of what the Derby is like on all the different levels (and price points).

If we were to go again, I think we would opt for the cheap, general admission to the infield; or quite possibly the first level grandstand if we were looking to have the full derby experience without the debt inducing price point of the higher up seats.

If you’re thinking of going but don’t want to break the bank, don’t be afraid of the infield.  It’s often compared to Bourbon Street during Marti Gras but this convergence of people more closely resembles a mainstream music festival than a sporting event.  Some people wouldn’t dare cross over into the masses and we were even warned against it…as if there were things in there derby virgin eyes couldn’t imagine.  But we felt right at home, the people were great and the spankin’ new-for-2014 giant screen ensures you still get a good view of the races no matter where you are.

kentucky derby


Where to Park it.

All of the parking in and around Louisville is crazy during Derby time and most is reserved in advance.  However, there is one place we found that always seems to have ample parking, doesn’t require a reservation and is cheaper than anything else around!  It also happens to be a short 1.7 mile walk (approx. 30 min) to the entrance of Churchill Downs!

the wynns

You will want to walk because it’s as close as you’re going to get and the traffic is unbearable!  Seriously, we were walking faster than the taxi cabs were driving.

The Kentucky Exposition Center is open year round and offers RV dry camping ($35) or full hookups ($50).  We also noticed they allowed tent camping on the grassy areas (however this is only allowed during the derby according to the office).  We have stayed here a couple of times now, it’s quiet, there are clean bathrooms, a dump station, its a good central location to explore Louisville and we had several fun derby neighbors!

kentucky derby

rv camping

It’s been said that Louisville, Kentucky is the only place in the world where people party two weeks for a two minute horse race.  If I had known this before our arrival, we would have shown up weeks earlier!

Have you experienced the Kentucky Derby?  Have any tips or thoughts you want to share?  Tell us all about it in the comments below, we would love to hear from you!


Disclaimer:  We received media passes for the derby and were hosted by them but all of our experiences, thoughts and opinions are our own and not swayed by slick fast ponies.

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (20)

  • I remember reading about your experiences at Burning Man with the Vesta and was thinking that you would be right at home in the infield – we would too. We have friends that have gone that are more, shall we say, box seat type people – and gave us the same warning you got about the infield. But isn’t that the type of crowd that makes things fun??? Glad you had a good time and its definitely on our list. Thanks for the heads up about the two week party…we’ll make time for it next year!

  • Lynette

    Looks like so much fun!!! Suggestion for y’all : ever thought of going to Bonnaroo? Would LOVE to see it from your perspective!!!

    • Lynette,
      We’ve done Burning Man, Coachella, Sasquatch, Lollapolloza and a few others over the years. Having an RV at a major festival like these makes the event all the sweeter!

  • Joyce Vallance

    You summed up the Kentucky Derby beautifully. As a lifelong Louisville area resident, I’d encourage you to come back sometime..not for the Derby alone, but for that two week long party before hand. One of our favorites is Thunder Over Louisville…one of the largest fireworks displays in the world. It is usually 2 weeks before the Derby. There is an air show starting at 3 and fireworks usually begin around 9:30. It is down on the river so both Louisville and Jeffersonville, IN have festivities. Most people bring a blanket, etc. and find a spot along the banks of the Ohio early in the day and then enjoy the many food booths, etc. along with the air show. There are some restaurants and hotels that have seating, but they are usually in the $300+ per seat. We prefer the view from the Indiana side…in addition to the airshow and fireworks we have the Louisville skyline to look at. April 18, 2015 is this year’s date, and it is the kick off for the KY Derby Festival. There are other events too: concerts, marathon, bed races, wine glass-carrying competitions, a steamboat race, parade and the ‘chow wagon’. Check out for more details. Thanks for sharing all your adventures…we love what you do!

    • Oh man, so much partying and so little time 🙂 KY does it right!

  • Angela Gill

    I have always wondered about the Kentucky Derby and other vacations around sports. Since I have camped (dry and partial hookups) at NASCAR Race events here in Florida, I see it seems to be the same as going to Races. You go for the experience, the excitement and the rush all that is around you. That is one experience that is over to the top FUN. And of course your camping/parking is A LOT cheaper than in Daytona. Thank you for sharing.

    • Infield at NASCAR is on the bucket list, just not sure when or where we’ll end up making it happen.

      • Peg

        You are so close to Daytona and the 500. Bummer if you missed it. Keep it on the list.

  • John Brunson

    nice way to begin my week!!! thanks for sharing… it seems that often i am living vicariously thru your blog.

  • Lynn

    Great insight into an iconic American event. Love that you got to experience it on all levels.

  • Great video and article. I went to the Oakes about 20 years ago and sat in the infield, too. I can identify with the people laying in the grass, possibly dehydrated and sunburned (and drunk)! Ha! Liked the blurring effect on the filming. Cool vibe to the video with lots of good info. Thanks Wynns!

  • I always enjoy your videos, but this is one of your best. I felt like I was there, without any of the expense. 🙂

    I LOVED the shot at about 3:50 of the horses’ legs & the dirt bits being tossed about. Artistry in motion. Good job!

    Also, your new logo is perfect…no words needed to convey what you 2 young folks are all about.

    Live long and prosper! (And keep doing what you’re doing, just exactly like you’re doing it.)

  • Love your new logo. It really fits you guys…always going, moving forward or on to the next new place. Ever changing scenery or views. Can’t wait to see the new website look.

    Back to The Derby….did y’all see any famous stars there?

    • We saw plenty of famous people there but we’re not typically star struck so we didn’t make a deal of it.

  • paul van

    What a handsome couple! Glad you rubbed elbows with the masses as well as the pretty people. I don’t know what response that photo of Nikki sitting on another man’s knee while Jason’s takes the trash out is supposed to elicit.

    • Just a group of new friends hangin out with nowhere near enough chairs. If you look closely he’s sitting on another dude’s lap too.


Post a Comment