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Celebrate Derby Day in style May 6

Photo courtesy John Duvall
What would the Kentucky Derby be without horses? While most of the horses will be at Churchill Downs for the big event, Rotarian Sue Walen’s horse will be at the local Kentucky Derby Gala, greeting eventgoers while sporting in a traditional rose garland. Ticket’s for the Rotary Club event are on sale now.

By Lisa Scott and John Duvall
Special to The PREVIEW

One of Pagosa’s best parties is back to its original location, the fabulous Keyah Grande Lodge. The Pagosa Springs Rotary Club is the sponsor of the Kentucky Derby Gala and everyone is welcome to join in the fun on May 6 from 2 to 6 p.m. for the Run for the Roses.

The fifth-annual event is filled with numerous activities and Derby traditions starting with the entrance. Local equestrian and Rotarian Sue Walen with her horse draped in the traditional rose garland will greet attendees at the entrance to Keyah Grande.

It’s like being at Churchill Downs in Louisville on Derby Day: True Kentucky-style mint juleps, a buffet lunch, live music by Bob Hemenger, everybody wearing their Derby finest (including colorful and occasionally outrageous hats to participate in the men’s and women’s hat contest), a silent auction featuring travel destination and activity packages, wagering on the race with real odds and real chances to win big bucks, big-screen televisions to watch the live pre-race and racing events and standing and singing “My Old Kentucky Home” with Derby attendees just before the big race.

Only 250 tickets will be sold and are $40 each. Buy them at EXIT Realty, The Choke Cherry Tree, Chamber of Commerce or from any Rotarian.

The Run for the Roses

And, the Run for the Roses is a thoroughbred horse race that takes you inside the winner’s circle and where legends are born.

The Run for the Roses, also referred to as the Race for the Roses, gets its name because of the blanket of 564 red roses given to the winner of the Kentucky Derby in the winner’s circle at the end of the race.

The tradition began in 1883 when E. Berry Wall, a New York socialite, gave out roses to women who attended a party after the Kentucky Derby. The founder and president of Churchill Downs at the time, Col. M. Lewis Clark, witnessed Wall’s rose gesture, which led to him making the red rose the official flower of the Kentucky Derby.

In 1896, the rose began to be awarded and draped around the winner of the race. The tradition has continued to this day and is one of the most important traditions of the event. The rose symbolizes the beauty of the horse and the achievement for both man and animal at the end of a stiff competition.

Dan Fogelberg, popular singer/songwriter and former Pagosa Springs resident, released a song called “Run for the Roses” in 1982, just in time for the running of the race that year.

Get in the Derby spirit

To put you in the proper Derby Day frame of mind, please take the following multiple choice quiz.

Question No. 1: Of the following, which one is not a native Kentuckian?

(a) Muhammad Ali;

(b) Loretta Lynn;

(c) Dolly Parton; or

(d) Abraham Lincoln.

Question No. 2: Any Kentuckian will tell you that mint juleps are made with:

(a) bourbon and water capped with fresh mint;

(b) Granny Clampet’s rhumatiz corn-squeezins;

(c) Tennessee whiskey and horse droppings; or

(d) A secret formula stored in a vault at Churchill Downs.

If you selected (c) and (a), respectively, you’re ready for the Kentucky Derby Gala. Now, go get those tickets.

About Rotary fundraisers

The Pagosa Springs Rotary Club is a diverse group of engaged individuals participating through friendship and camaraderie in opportunities to serve our community and other communities around the world. Fundraising from this event supports several projects in the Pagosa community including annual scholarships for local high school graduates and several other projects benefits Pagosa youth.

This story was posted on April 20, 2017.