Locals head to Churchill Downs earlier in the week to celebrate - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Locals head to Churchill Downs earlier in the week to celebrate Derby

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Derby isn't until Saturday, but locals tell WDRB if you're from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, coming to Churchill Downs early in the week is a tradition.

"Wednesday before Derby, it's just a tradition we started, me and a friend of mine, and we just enjoy it," said Louisville native Greg Nelson.

With guys and gals dressed to the nines and long lines to get inside Churchill Downs, the signs of Derby are here, but we're still a few days early.

Many people from Kentuckiana say that’s just how they like it. “Because when you do come on Friday and Saturday, you see a lot of strangers,” said Donna Cook.

“I think you still get the excitement, but you don't have as large of a crowd. It's a lot of fun to meet up with your girlfriends and just meet up at the track,” said Kentucky native Ginny Bennett. “And now you've got, what do you call it -- Thurby?”

Locals coined the phrase "Thurby" several years ago and it's since evolved into an all-day celebration at Churchill Downs with 11 races, bourbon and fashion --all on the Thursday before Derby.

“There's still a lot of Kentuckians that come out to the Oaks and still love the Oaks. But as the events grow and they become these big, international mega-events, we still want to make sure there's time for the people of Kentucky to come out and really enjoy the track and celebrate all things Kentucky,” said Sara Brown Meehan, Director of Lifestyle Communications at Churchill Downs Racetrack.

Thurby will feature live bourbon demonstrations by Old Forester and performances by local bands.

“The Kentucky Derby has pretty much become a month-long event,” Meehan said.

It's a jam packed month with Thurby, Oaks and Derby back-to-back.

“I think they need to come up with a Wednesday name, too,” said Cook.

Gates open at 11 a.m. on Thurby. For ticket information, click here.

Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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