[Moderated by Matt Jones]
Okay, so yesterday’s post gave you the do’s and don’ts of the infield. However, I have a confession to make: much to my dismay, I will not be making a pilgrimage to the Derby infield this year. A lack of funds and an inability to map out the logistics have led me to the decision that for the big race, I’m going to travel from Chicago to Lexington to have a Derby party with my friends. I’m sad but not terribly disappointed. After all, unless you’re fancy enough to have an actual seat in the grandstands- which I am decidedly not- chances are you won’t see the actual race anyway and will end up spending a lot of unnecessary money on food, drinks, transportation, lodging, and more. I sound like Scrooge, but that’s what being poor has done to me.
Want a fun alternative? Throw a Derby party with your friends. Of course, you could try to be classy and throw a Derby party like the one pictured below…
Derby Pie, Mint Juleps, roses, and all the fixins…
… or you could go low-brow like I plan on doing. Here’s a fun fact- this year, the Kentucky Derby falls on Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican holiday that everyone love to celebrate but no one actually knows what they’re celebrating (contrary to popular belief, it’s not actually Mexico’s Independence day). I’ll take a margarita over a mint julep any day, so for me, these coinciding holidays are a gift from God. I’ll outline a couple of ideas to help you throw a fantastic fiesta.
First, be kind and divide up the work. The friend that’s hosting shouldn’t be called upon to set up, cook, make drinks, and then clean up as well. For Cinco de Derby, an obvious choice for food is a make your own taco bar. Have everyone bring an ingredient or topping (try and coordinate beforehand so you don’t have a dozen jars of salsa), and leave cooking the meat to the host. Or, if you’re too lazy for even that and everyone’s willing to pitch in some money, Qdoba offers various catering options for a surefire crowd-pleaser.
My mouth is watering already.
Mexican food pairs well with a lot of things, but I’m not sure that mint juleps fit into that category. Have a variety of drinks on hand- water and soft drinks- and tell guests to bring anything else they may wish to consume. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to whip up a batch of margaritas or beer-ritas, go for it, as long as you make sure to hydrate throughout the day and don’t let anyone drive under the influence. Radar should be out and about, I’m sure.
Bring some fun accessories so that everyone looks appropriately fancy while watching the classiest event in sports. And by classy, I mean wearing fake mustaches and either a cowboy hat or a sombrero- or horse fingers puppets?
So you’re eating, you’re drinking, you’re mingling, and you look really goofy- but there’s still a ton of time before post at 6:24 pm. What to do, what to do? Besides watching a replay of the 2012 title game, which ANY good host still has DVRed, make some bets among your friends. In my family, we don’t pretend to know anything about horse racing. We go old school and draw horses out of a hat. Have everyone throw in five bucks and divide the pot among those who had a horse that won, placed, showed, or came in dead last. Or, bet on even goofier things- how many celebrities they’ll show during “My Old Kentucky Home,” how many times we’ll see Bob Baffert, what color silks the winning jockey will wear, and how many times the Kentucky-Louisville Final Four game is mentioned. If your friends are actually knowledgeable about horse-racing and want to place side bets, that’s up to them and color me impressed.
Once the most exciting two minutes in sports are over, the party could easily end. Don’t let the party end. There’s a good chance you’ll have enough leftover food and drink to refuel for a second wind and a night out wherever you are. Make your way downtown- safely- and rehash the race’s greatest moments and the weirdest celebrity hats at your favorite watering hole. Still wearing your sombreros and mustaches, naturally. I’ll see you in Lexington.
Any other Cinco de Derby party ideas that I missed? Tweet em @KristenGeilKSR
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