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Letter from the Editor April 2022

Photo by Andrea Hutchinson. Gown by Coral Castillo.

The perceptive words of John Steinbeck greet you on a wall as you enter The Turf Club at Churchill Downs: “The Kentucky Derby, whatever it is – a race, an emotion, a turbulence, an explosion – is one of the most beautiful and violent and satisfying things I have ever experienced.” I think Steinbeck managed, as he often did, to describe the Derby in a way many of us struggle to define.

I can’t help but think of how many of those words could also accurately describe the process of planning, editing and publishing each issue of the VOICE. A great deal of preparation and passion is poured into what we hope looks effortless, stylish and celebratory in the end – like the Derby, we aspire to reflect the best of Louisville. Penny Chenery, the owner of Triple Crown winner Secretariat, offered a similar observation when she said, “Waiting for the Derby to start is the longest day of your life…It’s just a unique time of thrill and tension and worry.” Each month we load all our work into the starting gate, and once we’re off, the rest happens very fast, but is largely out of our control at that point.

It isn’t lost on me that a horse is only three once. Preparation begins from the day they are born and they only have one chance at the Kentucky Derby. Luckily for us, we get to run this exhilarating race with our readers each month, but almost no other carries the significance of our Derby preview issue.  

I first moved to Louisville with my family when I was in the 4th grade and instinctually resented the hype leading up to the Derby, especially the references to “My Old Kentucky Home,” because it made me even more homesick for my friends back in Illinois. But what I’ve learned since is that whether a born Kentuckian or not, the Derby, and in the city of Louisville by extension, has a way of enveloping you and forcing you to feel emotions previously left untapped. Now when I hear that song, I’m one of the (incredibly uncharacteristic) criers. The pride I feel for this place, these traditions, the work we produce through the efforts of this small team at the VOICE is – yes, though turbulent at times – can best be described as deeply satisfying. It feels like Home.      

One of the great traditions of Derby is brought to us by the Kentucky Derby Festival – the hot air balloon race! This vibrant custom sparked our creative minds when planning for our Derby fashion editorial. 

The Derby is important to different people for different reasons, but when you live in Louisville, Kentucky, it is part of you. I hope VOICE Louisville, and our subsequent coverage of all the festivities, will become another part of the way you celebrate our city’s finest hour.

With gratitude,

Alexandra Hepfinger
Editor in Chief