News & Updates
The Kentucky Derby Festival is hosting a Block Party this year and inviting everyone to attend the inaugural celebration. This free event, debuting with the support of Churchill Downs and Humana and the Derby Festival’s Derby Equity Community Initiative (DECI), will be held on Saturday, April 16 at the Norton Healthcare Sports & Learning Center.
This new Festival event, which is slated to become an annual tradition, will shine the spotlight on talent and resources throughout Louisville, specifically minority-owned businesses in West Louisville. Guests can enjoy cuisine from local food trucks, live entertainment, a shopping marketplace, wellness activations, a vendor fair, programming and more. The day-long event will last from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“The Kentucky Derby Festival’s mission has always been to bring our community together in celebration,” said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President & CEO. “After two years, we look forward to returning to live and in-person events and are thrilled to add a new Block Party to our line-up. This event will showcase even more of what our great city has to offer. We hope everyone will join us!.”
The DECI, which launched in spring 2021 and is a multi-year initiative, is a combined effort to incorporate equitable programming into the Derby season with the intention of directing economic impact and ensuring that the entire community feels a part of the Derby season and the celebrations that surround it.
In addition to partnerships with Churchill Downs and Humana, the Kentucky Derby Festival also sought input from several members of the community, who played an instrumental role in the creation of Block Party.
“This is going to be an amazing event. We appreciate the Kentucky Derby Festival for asking the community what was needed and actually hearing us,” said Latonia Bland, owner of BRAINFREEZE: Cones For A Cause!, an ice-cream food truck whose proceeds benefit the Math Academy of Louisville, and who is also one of the food vendors that will be onsite at Block Party.
Several non-profit organizations, all who have been making a positive impact with their various initiatives to meet the basic human needs of residents of the West Louisville community, will also be at Block Party to showcase their services. A complete list of participants can be found at KDF.org.
“There are so many non-profits in this community doing amazing work and making a difference that don’t get the spotlight, and we are thrilled for our community to see them at the inaugural Kentucky Derby Festival Block Party,” said Stachelle Bussey, Founder & Executive Director of the Hope Buss, a non-profit organization focused on empowering families and individuals to reimagine our community by working alongside them to build HOPE-based infrastructure and create sustainable resources.
From food and shopping to entertainment and health and wellness, Block Party highlights include:
- Around a dozen local food trucks will be on hand serving up a variety of cuisine, including smoked barbecue, jerk chicken tacos, soul food and more. A complete list of food trucks is available at KDF.org.
- MELANnaire Marketplace – Featuring nearly 40 vendors and merchants highlighting Black entrepreneurs, this local shopping marketplace is a one-stop-shop for spring fashions, Derby attire, hats, accessories, gourmet food and more.
- Live entertainment will take place on multiple stages throughout the day showcasing a variety of music genres. The complete line-up will be posted on KDF.org closer to the event.
- Health and wellness venues will be onsite offering services, including a tent that will be set up for COVID-19 vaccinations.
- Children’s activities include inflatables, face painting and an Easter Egg Hunt.
Admission to Block Party is FREE. Churchill Downs and Humana are Presenting Sponsors of the event, joining Contributing Sponsors: Commonwealth Credit Union and Ford Motor Company. Media Sponsor is REAL 93.1.
About Kentucky Derby Festival
Since 1956, the Derby Festival has worked to bring the community together in celebration. The Festival is an independent community organization supported by 4,000 volunteers, 400 businesses and civic groups, Pegasus Pin sponsorships and event participation. This involvement has made the festival the largest single attended event in Kentucky and one of the leading community celebrations in the world.