Kentucky Derby celebrations commence across Colorado Springs – Colorado Springs Gazette

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Dandy dressing for the Derby
Margarita Montwill sports a Derby hat at Gold Hill Mesa’s Kentucky Derby party on Saturday, May 6, 2023. (Parker Seibold, The Gazette)
A crowd cheers as the horses leave the starting gate for the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby during a watch party at Axe and Oak Whiskey House on Saturday, May 6, 2023. The whiskey house hosted their 6th annual Kentucky Derby party complete with mint juleps and prizes for best dressed. (Parker Seibold, The Gazette)
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Light from a doorway shines on Jackie Hess and her blue Derby hat during Kentucky Derby watch party at Axe and Oak Whiskey House on Saturday, May 6, 2023. (Parker Seibold, The Gazette)

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Dandy dressing for the Derby
Margarita Montwill sports a Derby hat at Gold Hill Mesa’s Kentucky Derby party on Saturday, May 6, 2023. (Parker Seibold, The Gazette)
A crowd cheers as the horses leave the starting gate for the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby during a watch party at Axe and Oak Whiskey House on Saturday, May 6, 2023. The whiskey house hosted their 6th annual Kentucky Derby party complete with mint juleps and prizes for best dressed. (Parker Seibold, The Gazette)
050723-news-derby 02.JPG
Light from a doorway shines on Jackie Hess and her blue Derby hat during Kentucky Derby watch party at Axe and Oak Whiskey House on Saturday, May 6, 2023. (Parker Seibold, The Gazette)
Saturday marked the 149th annual Kentucky Derby, and you know what that means: big hats, fancy dresses, and of course, ice-cold mint juleps.
Known as the “most exciting two minutes in sports,” the annual horse race holds a special place in American history as the longest-running sporting event in the U.S. Every year on the first week of May, more than 150,000 people gather at the Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Ky. — attracting more attendees than the Super Bowl and World Series.
Celebrations commenced all around Colorado Springs surrounding live music, horse-betting, fundraising, and of course, more than enough mint juleps to go around.
Over at the Gold Hill Mesa Community Center, families and friends gathered on the lawn for the first of their summer concert series featuring local artist Doctor Fine. Music echoed throughout the neighborhood, accompanied by food trucks and vendors for a free, family-oriented event.
Neighboring the lawn was the Colorado Springs Philharmonic Guild’s V.I.P. Kentucky Derby fundraiser.
“The turnout this year has been amazing, and we have a beautiful day for it,” said Jessica Kyle, event organizer and chair member of the guild.
“We just thought it would be super-fun. People love to dress up and wear big hats, and then we can raise funds for the Philharmonic. We do all the horse stuff, drink mint juleps and have a great time,” Kyle said.
According to Kyle, the event is expected to raise over $10,000.

Colorado Springs mayoral candidate Wayne Williams was in attendance, tasked with judging the derby day hat contest.
Taking home the first-place prize was derby enthusiast Margarita Montwill, who was sporting a vintage black floppy hat, stacked with a decadent floral arrangement.
“It was a gift from my friend in the ’80s, and I’ve been wearing it ever since,” Montwill said, “I absolutely love watching the Derby every year.”
Meanwhile, at the Ivywild School complex on Colorado Springs’ south side, festivities erupted from the Axe & Oak Distillery’s sixth annual Derby Day party.
“We started this event pretty early as we opened the whiskey house,” owner Eric Baldini said. “It’s just been a fun, cultural event, and a way to bring the community together, dress up, have a good time and watch some horses.”
Belinda Speth, the distillery’s brand ambassador and event coordinator, said as a whiskey and bourbon house, the Kentucky Derby celebration was a natural tradition to fall into.
“Having a Kentucky Derby party has really been the whiskey thing to do. We do bourbon and whiskey, so with the mint julep, we kind of fell into it,” Speth said,
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