FRANKFORT, Ky. — In another sign that life is slowly returning to normal following the coronavirus pandemic, it is once again Derby time in the Bluegrass State.
Gov. Andy Beshear and First Lady Britainy Beshear were joined Monday by tourism and Kentucky Derby officials for the unveiling of this the 2021 Governor’s Derby Celebration poster.
“The Kentucky Derby will have some fans in-person this year,” Gov. Beshear said. “This is what is possible through our successful rollout of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. The more Kentuckians who get their shot of hope, the more we can gather safely and ease restrictions.
“Thoroughbred horse racing is many things in Kentucky: it’s sport, culture, business and heritage. It’s also art, and today I couldn’t be happier to be taking part in this time-honored tradition of presenting a Governor’s Celebration Derby Poster. This year’s poster exemplifies the excitement and enthusiasm that surrounds the greatest two minutes in sports. It also serves as a wonderfully vibrant and cherished memento of the race for the public.”
This year’s poster was created by Lexington artist Lennon Michalski. He said he was inspired by previous visits to the Derby with his son, and he hoped to capture the excitement of watching the race from the rail and holding a winning ticket.
The Derby returns to its traditional date on the first Saturday in May, which falls on May 1 this year. Last year, the Derby was held on Labor Day weekend with no fans in attendance, due to the pandemic.
And while the celebration still has some changes from tradition — including limited attendance, a re-imagined Thunder over Louisville, and a touring Pegasus Parade — the return to spring was viewed as a welcome step back toward normalcy.
“After this past year, it was so important for the Derby Festival that we find new ways to bring our favorite Kentucky traditions to the community,” said Derby Festival president and CEO Matt Gibson. “While our events are different, just being able to do something gives us hope and is a sign of good things to come.”