Louisville is for (Derby) Lovers

Stacy Robinson.

Stacy Robinson.

Louisville native Stacey Robinson loves this city.

For the senior vice president of operations for the Kentucky Derby Festival, the two-week celebration is her first crush.

Robinson’s official role is to oversee event staff for the 70-plus events that will take place between now and Derby, although no job is off-limits. While Robinson has been helping to coordinate everything from Dawn at the Downs to details with the Barnstable Brown Party for the last 26 years, her favorite event is the Pegasus Parade. That’s when she sits back and watches the hard work come together.

“The Kentucky Derby excites a lot of out-of-towners, but the Derby Festival is for the locals,” she explained.

This year, said Robinson, will be “bigger and better.” Among the highlights: the air show will be extended by an hour and the Great Steamboat Race will host the American Queen, the largest steamboat ever built.

Robinson’s not-to-miss pick is the Kroger Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront. This year’s event will feature several performers, including headliner George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic. “The Waterfront is a great place to come be with family and friends any time of the year,” Robinson said. “It’s just an added perk when there’s a concert (at Derby).”

At the top of Robinson’s list of favorite Derby moments is actress Diane Lane’s appearance as grand marshall in the 2010 Republic Bank Pegasus Parade. With the then-fanfare for “Secretariat,” the Disney blockbuster, “everyone was excited about the Derby that year,” recalled Robinson. “People seemed so proud to be from Louisville.”

This year’s list of celebrities expected to land in Louisville for Derby will remain secret until May 3, but Robinson promises the Kentucky Derby Festival will once again deliver. “Who (else) can take a two minute horse race and turn it into a two-week party?”

Contact writer Kellie Denton at YourVoice@voice-tribune.com.