It's Off to the Races: Derby Day Comes to Fairfield

The Kentucky Derby has become an American tradition not only at Churchill Downs stadium, but also here in Fairfield

From mint juleps to extravagant hats and sophisticated attire, over its 136-year history, the Kentucky Derby has become a tradition not only at Churchill Downs stadium, but also here in Fairfield, Connecticut.

The Kentucky Derby is not just about horse racing, but is more about being an extravagant springtime sports party celebrated all over the country. While a horse race is at the heart of the event, there are many unique aspects of the Derby experience including traditions that date back to the 1800s. Racing in Louisville dates back to 1783 when local sources reported that races were held on Market Street in the downtown area, according to the official Kentucky Derby website.

In upholding a recently-installed tradition, Pequot Library’s third annual Derby Party will be held Saturday afternoon on the Great Lawn of the library and will feature frosty mint juleps, Kentucky fare and Blue Grass music. Prizes will be awarded to “Best Tailgate” and “Best Derby Hat.”

“This is a fun, colorful event and helps us meet our fundraising goals for the year,” said Daniel Snydacker, executive director of Pequot Library.

The highlight of the day is when everyone assembles in the library auditorium to watch the 137th “Run for the Roses,” which is projected live in HD on Pequot’s big screen. Attendance is either by individual ticket or as a reserved tailgate space. Those choosing to tailgate receive four tickets, a special 3 p.m. early entrance, and parking in a designated spot on the library’s Great Lawn.

Vince Giandurco and his wife, hat designer Brenda Lynn, attended and sponsored a booth at the event last year and will be doing so again on Saturday.

“It was super fun. A tailgate is set up around the edge of the library green,” Giandurco told About Town. “Everyone was decked out in fine attire and the lassies wore fabulous hats. There is a great display of antique cars, and real horses parade as in a paddock.”

And in case you need one, Giandurco and his wife will again be selling Brenda Lynn’s spring hats, which include special occasion, casual and straw styles.

“I’ve been in the fashion world for over 20 years, and have been to zillions of events. The Pequot Kentucky Derby party may just be the most fun and original,” Lynn told About Town.  “The crowd is sophisticated, friendly and upbeat, and the scene -- the horses, the classic cars, the clothes, and yes, the hats -- are just amazing.  We can’t wait to participate again this year.”

Derby Day tickets are $60 per person or $300 for tailgate (includes 4 tickets). For information, call 203-259-0346 ext. 13 or click here.


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