Yesterday I talked to some Derby Season Haters who think Louisville would be better off without three weeks of pesky festivals. Today, I'm asking some festival lovers who can't get enough which one is their favorite and why. There's a delightful lot to choose from.
Lauren, who moved to Louisville as a child, said, "My favorite thing about this time of year is the way the city really winds down for three weeks. Everything's more relaxed. You don't work full days. It's okay if you're drinking at 3:00 on a Tuesday. It's not really an event per say, but I love love love the weeks before Derby. And I LOVE the festivals! I enjoyed Thunder when I was younger. These days, I don't care much for the crowds and the traffic, but the fireworks show is fantastic."
Lauren turned me on to something I hadn't even known about - free movies at the waterfront. "I loved something they did last year - they showed Back to the Future down at the Kroger Fest-A-Ville. They put up a giant screen and let people bring their own chairs and blankets. That was awesome. It was really laid back, the people were so friendly."
Stephanie positively gushed about Derby Season. "I LOVE the city this time of year! It's something to do. I love everything about it. The Chow Wagon is my favorite. Music, junk food, corn dogs, funnel cakes, the Greek gyros. Every year at chow wagon and the fair, I have to get my corn dog and gyros. The Chow Wagon is like a mini-fair, but not as crowded and just for locals. That's why I like it."
I always considered the Chow Wagon something that gave downtown workers a nice lunchtime alternative. To my surprise, people who normally wouldn't venture downtown at all are willing to brave spaghetti junction and pay $5 for parking just for the fair like atmosphere.
"I really like the Chow Wagon," said Darien. "Walking around, going to the booths, feeling all that energy in the air - it's really nice."
His friend Eric, who lives on the Sunny Side of Louisville, had to give some love to Thunder. "I used to live in Jeff and Thunder was always my big thing. I'd walk down to the river and watch it each year. It brings back a lot of nostalgia for me from when I was very young, all the way until now. I love Thunder."
Kristen just moved back to Louisville after five years in Vegas. "I've been back since October. I couldn't wait for this time of year. I love the Chow Wagon. I'm super excited about the Parade. Thunder's always great. I love it all. Sure, the parking's a mess, but it's totally worth it. We brought a guy to Thunder for the first time, and we had all this buildup, warning him it was going to be a zoo and we'd be waiting forever. At the end of it he said it was a great show and he didn't think the parking was all that bad! It was a great time."
Halley isn't as big a fan of Thunder. "It's cold and loud and the fireworks ash gets in my eyes." However, she still loves coming down to the waterfront. "I'm a dork. I love the Dog Day. It's a fundraiser for the SPCA, and you see everyone there, so friendly, and the animals have such a good time."
Next to her, J.P. said, "Me, I like the steamboat race. I also really like the parade - but I was in it when I was a kid. All the races are great. Steamboats, balloons I love a race that takes all day. You just keep looking out your window and watch the race drift on while you're at work."
You can guess my favorite. Yes, the photo is of me, sitting on the river wall with nothing between myself and the barges but water, dressed as a Space Pirate at this year's Thunder.
Tomorrow, I'll be back with more voices of Louisville - this time, asking people to weigh in on the great debate of Oaks versus Derby.
Photo Courtsey Chris-Rachael Oseland