LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Thursday before Derby has earned the moniker "Thurby" -- and it's becoming ever more popular.

It used to be that the Kentucky Oaks was the day that locals mainly enjoyed the track, before giving way to the out-of-towners on Friday -- but now, for Louisville residents, it's all about Thurby.

It's the official kickoff to Derby weekend. Thurby brings a big crowd to Churchill Downs, but the number of people is only expected to grow over the next two days.

"It's just -- it's like oaks," said one attendee. "But just not as crowded, just more personable, more local. We really enjoy it."

Thurby is supposed to celebrate the local community. Churchill Downs says the name comes after so many people started using the hashtag, #Thurby.

Some have been coming to the track on Thursday for years.

"It's a tradition for the four of us," said Amy Reesor. "We come out every year on Thursday and have for...this is like a our fifth year."

For others - it's the first time.

"It's an experience," said Micah Cargin. "With parking...sketchy. But the people watching here is absolutely amazing."

Some Bright colors and big hats dot the stands. Some hats are homemade.

"It's award-winning and it's custom," said one Thurby fan. "Step One, you have to start drinking beer, because the box comes full."

Thurby also means lower prices. Tickets start at $15 and the drinks don't cost as much as Derby.

Some of the people coming here for years say this day keeps getting more and more popular.

"Hopefully Thurby will stay the local day and we won't have to move it back to Wednesday but...we enjoy it!" said Reesor. 

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