NewsCovering Kentucky


Kentucky Derby Festival to go on in 2021, but will look 'very different'

Thunder over Louisville.jpg
Posted at 9:28 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 09:29:19-05

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — Like many big events during the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's Kentucky Derby Festival will look very different.

At a virtual press conference on Tuesday, organizers told reporters that the events people look forward to every year will still go on, but in a safe way.

It's a Springtime ritual for people across Kentucky.... highly-anticipated and highly-attended events like Thunder Over Louisville and the Pegasus Parade.

"Our goal has been to be here for the community when we get through all of this and that has not changed," said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President & CEO.

Due to COVID-19, there will be drastic changes. There will be no crowds at the waterfront for Thunder Over Louisville, which is set for April 17.

"There will still be airplanes and fireworks, but we will not be gathering at the waterfront for the show. We know we can't bring a crowd together like that safely right now," said Gibson.

There will also be no crowds gathered along Broadway for the Pegasus Parade.

"We're taking a new approach with a tribute to the Pegasus Parade that will allow us to literally bring the event to the community," said Gibson.

Last year, the cancellation of those big events, along with the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon, cost the city of Louisville millions of dollars in revenue.

"While not holding events in 2020 was the right decision, it was devastating to the festival, our industry, and the community as a whole." said Gibson.

But festival organizers promise to deliver on plans to re-imagine these traditional events so that people can enjoy them safely.

"We know the festival and what is brings to our community and it is needed more than ever. We see it in their faces," said Gibson

More details about the Kentucky Derby Festival and events surrounding it are set to be released in the next few weeks.