Kentucky Derby Day Activity Sidekick

We have curated some fun additions to celebrate Derby Day anywhere!

One of the most celebrated sporting events is the Kentucky Derby.  Get all your residents interested in the festivities of this event with some of the ideas and links we’ve provided below.

Have everyone dress in their Sunday Best to watch the race live on TV.  Hats will be the star of the show whether your residents already have hats or whether you choose to provide some they can decorate.  The bigger the better.  Plain floppy sun hats with flowers, stickers, glitter glue, feathers, pom-poms, and ribbons will be so much fun for them.  Men can wear their bow-ties or again, make them be sure to include suspenders and dress shoes.

ACTIVITY ASSISTANT PRODUCTS FOR KENTUCKY DERBY DAY

DECORATIONS:

The red rose is the official flower of the Kentucky Derby. You can sprinkle roses by using petals or roses throughout. Or use roses on your tableware.

FOOD AND DRINK:

Brunch is a big deal at the Derby.  You could make a spread of all kinds of breakfast appetizers.  Mini quiche, egg bites, muffins, biscuits and sausage, bagels, hash browns, waffles with fruit all would be so so good!

  • The Hot Brown is The iconic sandwich of Kentucky. The open-face affair features sliced roasted turkey on thick toast, smothered in a rich cheesy Mornay sauce, and baked until bubbling. And in case that wasn’t enough, the whole thing gets topped off with bacon and a slice of tomato.
  • Pimento Cheese – after all, it is the caviar of the south.
  • Deviled Eggs – another southern favorite.
  • Kentucky Bourbon Balls
  • Beer Cheese – for all those crackers and pretzels
  • Fried Chicken – Need I say more – what a southern plate of happiness!

And of course, a Derby isn’t a Derby without a mint julep cocktail.  Have plenty of fresh mint, seltzer water, Kentucky Bourbon whiskey, fun red and white paper straw, simple sugar syrup,  and ice. 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, packed
  • 32 ounces Kentucky bourbon
  • 8 sprigs mint, fresh, for garnish

Directions

  1. Rinse mint prior to chopping. Reserve 8 sprigs for garnishing, roughly chop the rest.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine water, sugar, and chopped mint. Bring to a moderate boil and reduce by a third. Allow syrup to cool.
  3. Pour syrup through a strainer to remove mint leaves. This can be made several days ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. 
  4. Fill eight frozen, silver julep cups* with shaved ice and pour 4 ounces of bourbon and approximately 1/4 cup mint syrup depending on one’s desired sweetness.

Need a nonalcoholic version? This one makes 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 3 cup club soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp lime juice
  • 6 oz thawed lemonade concentrate
  • 6 tbsp creme de menthe syrup
  • green food coloring
  • mint leaves for garnish
  • lemon for garnish
  • cherries for garnish

Instructions

  • In a medium pot, dissolve sugar in club soda by stirring constantly on medium heat. Add lime juice and lemonade concentrate and bring to a boil.
  • Remove from heat and add creme de menthe syrup and food coloring. Chill.
  • Use this mixture as syrup – 3 parts syrup to 5 parts water. Makes about ⅔ gallon. ENJOY!

Engage in some friendly betting with these games:

You can go to kentuckyderby.com to get the names of the horses running in the Derby and in the 11 undercard races that take place before the Derby.

The Derby Hat Draw

  • Ask each guest to contribute a sum of money (or m&ms or anything else you like) to a pool – or just spring for the pool yourself.
  • Put the names of all the Derby horses for a particular race in a hat.
  • Allow your guests to draw the name of a horse out of the hat.
  • Whoever has the name of the horse who wins the race wins the pool

Vegas at the Derby

Wager on whether the following Derby Day traditions will go over or under the time allotted below.

  • 2:15 How long it will take Lady Antebellum to sing the national anthem
  • :90 How long it will take the crowd to sing My Old Kentucky Home
  • 2:00 The time length of the race

You could also use a poster board to create a large betting sheet so all the residents could cast their bet.  Set it up with columns like listed below: then each person can write their name in each horse’s section they’d like to bet on.  Make them simple $2 bets.  Total money collected could be divided among all the names in the winner’s line.


YouTube Links

Fun crafts you can do

The Best Movies About Horseracing

  • Seabiscuit (2003)
  • Secretariat (2010)
  • 50 to 1 (2014)
  • Phar Lap (1983)
  • Keep On Keepin’ On (2014)
  • Dreamer (2005)
  • The Black Stallion (1979)
  • Ruffian (2007)
  • Hidalgo (2004)
  • Let It Ride (1989)
  • National Velvet (1944)
  • Ride Like a Girl (2020)

Kentucky Derby Playlist Links

  1. WFPL’s Curious Louisville Derby Playlist – here
  2. Kentucky Derby Party Playlist