Throw a Kentucky Derby Party

The Derby always run on the first Saturday in May, the Kentucky Derby is known as the “greatest 2 minutes in sports”.  As a native of “Luhval”, it is bred into us to throw a fabulous Derby Bash – no matter where in the world we are. Throw a Kentucky Derby Party, like a backyard Derby barbecue, it’s a  fun way to enjoy an afternoon of awesome spring weather.  Along with friends and family, invite the neighbors – this is an easy party to throw together and a perfect opportunity to get to know your neighbors better.

The Menu

Throw a Kentucky Derby Party

“The Run for the Roses” Backyard BBQ Party


Mix & Match Menu

Mix and match recipes from this list to create your perfect Kentucky Derby Party menu.  Using these recipes and party ideas makes it so easy to throw a Kentucky Derby Party.

Mint Juleps
Hot Crab Dip
Watermelon Feta Salad
Citrus Brined Grilled Turkey
Kelly’s Kentucky Hot Browns

This famous sandwich was created by the Brown Hotel In Louisville, Kentucky.  They are featuring a $1500 Agave Julep for the Derby – that should tell you everything you need to know.

Kentucky Burgoo
Spicy Blueberry BBQ Chicken Skewers
Grilled Lobster Mac and Cheese
Honey Orange Green Beans
Derby Pie

I can’t wait to try this recipe – Bacon Bourbon Caramel Popcorn

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The Plan
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Throw a Kentucky Derby Party

Plan your Backyard Derby BBQ

Stress-free Guide to Throw a Kentucky Derby Party

The weather is warming up and it’s the perfect time for a backyard barbeque so throw a Kentucky Derby Party.  Invite friends and family for a relaxing afternoon of Derby festivities.

Kentucky Derby Party Start Time

Start the party a couple hours before post time. Television coverage usually begins at 5 PM (check local listings) and the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home” and post time is 6:15ish. So a 4:30 or 5 start time would give everyone plenty of time to grab a Mint Julep, nibble on some tasty Kentucky favorites and pick their favorite horses.

What to Wear | Kentucky Derby Attire

If you’ve ever watched the Derby, the coverage is as much about the parties, tailgating, celebrities and the unique Derby fashion as it is about jockeys and horses.  Get into the spirit of the event by encouraging your guests to wear their best Derby fashions.  For women that means creating a crazy, colorful hat or fascinator (the bigger the better. Guys can pull-out their seersucker, Madras, crazy strips, paired with a bow tie and/or suspenders.   You might want to offer prizes for best hat, best-dressed guy and girl, best-dressed couple.  Need more ideas?  Click these links for hats, fashions for women and for men.  Now you are ready to hobnob with all the celebs at the Derby.

Pick Your Horse | Kentucky Derby Betting Games

Print copies of the field early Saturday – since there are typically late minute changes. A fun way to get everyone involved is to write the names of the horses on slips of paper (if you have more guests than horses running make multiple sets of the field), have everyone place a $1 in a kitty, then they draw the name of a horse to cheer on during the race. The holder of the slip of paper with the winning horse wins the kitty. If there are several winners just split the pot.  Visit the official Kentucky Derby website for more wagering party games.

For expert picks and betting tips check out the official Kentucky Derby website.

Plan Your Kentucky Derby Party Menu
Sing “My Old Kentucky Home” | Iconic Kentucky Derby Anthem

Print copies of “My Old Kentucky Home”, so everyone can sing along, as the horses are loaded into the gates.  Print it below.  These are the official lyrics that are sung today – if just google search it you might end up with a copy of the original version that contains some insensitive lyrics.

Derby Fun

Derby Hats

Derby Hats don’t have to be expensive.  I bought my hat @ Marshall’s and all the decorations at the dollar store.  I found a red cardinal – perfect –  state bird is the Kentucky Red Cardinal.  Derby hat making can be a fun activity if you plan to spend the entire afternoon hanging out before the race.  Have the ladies & guys (if you can convince them) to bring hats.  You can pick up supplies at the Dollar Store + have guests bring leftovers from other projects.
Derby Fun

Men’s Derby Outfits

Now is the time to pull out the Madras, crazy plaids and seersucker that’s been hiding in the back of the closet.  Pair any combination with a colorful bow tie and suspenders and you’ve got a killer Derby outfit.  Remember, so have fun mixing plaids, patterns, and colors.  It’s a party!
Derby Games

Derby Hat Draw

Super easy game to get everyone in the Derby spirit.  Write or print the names of each of the horses on a slip of paper and put them in a hat or basket.  Each guest throws a dollar in the kitty, draws a horse and then cheers for their horse to win!  The holder of the winning horse gets the pot.  If you have more guests than horses just double up on the horses.
Derby Signature Drink

Mint Julep

Mix up a pitcher or 2 of the Kentucky Derby signature cocktail – the Mint Julep.  Fresh mint and a good bourbon are important to creating a perfect drink.  Sip this slowly – it’s delicious but really strong.
Derby Drinks

Other Beverages

In addition to the Mint Juleps make sure you have plenty of bottled water – sparkling water is a festive choice and can be flavored with mint for your designated drivers.  Champagne is another signature drink at the Derby.  You might want a couple of bottles to raise a toast during the signing of “My Old Kentucky Home” or at the presentation of the roses.  More Derby cocktail recipes.
Derby Food

Mix and Match Derby BBQ

I like to throw a turkey breast on the grill, delicious on its own but can easily be made into the famous Louisville sandwich the “hot brown”.  I always serve a refreshing salad as an easy stress-free side and I get so many requests for the hot crab dip, so that’s always on the menu.

Stress-free tip:  Ask guests to bring things like dessert, appetizers or their signature dish to make this super easy.


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