Kentucky Derby Festival FAQs

The Commonwealth’s largest single annual event, and one of Louisville’s most popular entertainment attractions, the celebration is produced by Kentucky Derby Festival, Inc., a private, not-for-profit civic organization.

While the Festival leads up to the first Saturday in may and the annual Kentucky Derby, it is a separate organization from Churchill Downs.

The Festival celebrates the horse race, but more importantly the unique spirit of the community at “Derby” time.  The Derby Festival has become a rite of spring.

70-plus special events comprise the Festival schedule. Some are produced by partner organizations.

The Festival is produced by a full-time staff of 22 event professionals, a board of directors of 75 community leaders, and a network of 4,000 volunteers.


The Derby Festival is a private, not-for-profit organization. The 501(c)(4) Festival raises all its funds privately.

The Derby Festival does not receive tax dollars for event production.

We are a self-sustaining business with its entire annual budget derived from four primary sources:

  • Corporate sponsorships
  • Pegasus Pin and merchandise sales
  • Concessions proceeds
  • Event ticket sales and entry fees

The overall estimated annual economic impact of the Derby Festival is $127.9 million.* That means for every $1 spent producing the Festival $22 is generated for the local economy.

Economic Impact by Event:

  • Thunder Over Louisville – $56,663,177
  • Chow Wagon/Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront – $16,472,795
  • Pegasus Parade –$22,462,902
  • Great Balloon Fest –  $5,079,449
  • Marathon/miniMarathon – $4,923,936
  • Great Steamboat Race – $703,535
  • Great Bed Races – $465,448
  • $1 Million Hole in One Golf Contest – $306,588
  • They’re Off! Luncheon – $160,579
  • WineFest – $136,194

The Festival hosts 1.5 Million attendees in a traditional year, with the largest event being Thunder Over Louisville. The entire Festival produces 70 events and operates on a budget of $7 million.  The average customer at a Festival event spends $32.

The Festival is produced by a full-time staff of 22 event professionals, a board of directors of 75 community leaders, and a network of 4,000 volunteers.

*Economic Impact Study was conducted in 2011 by the University of Louisville’s MBA Program.

Health and safety is the Derby Festival’s top priority.

More information can be found here:

Many local, regional, national and international businesses find sponsorship with the Kentucky Derby Festival a successful means of gaining exposure for their product or service.

There are currently more than 400 organizations from small local businesses to international corporations that find the Derby Festival a worthwhile investment. Representing half of the Festival’s funding, they are vital to the success of our civic celebration.

Sponsorship with the Festival also demonstrates a commitment to the metro-community, and often provides an opportunity for employers to get their employees involved in something that they probably already attend as an individual or with their family.

The Festival offers various levels and types of sponsorship opportunities and these sponsorships are customized for each sponsor.

For more information on these sponsorship opportunities you can contact April Zik, Director of Sponsorship Sales, at (502) 572-3836 or

A Pegasus Pin is a way you can support the Derby Festival. It’s a sponsorship program for the community.

The Pegasus Pin Sponsorship program was started as an awareness campaign for the Derby Festival in 1973, and have become one of the primary sources of funding for the Festival. A pin sponsorship investment is a way fans can support the Kentucky Derby Festival, a not-for-profit organization that produces world-class entertainment every spring. 

The Kentucky Derby Festival Pegasus Pin Sponsorship Program includes the following benefits: 

  • Pegasus Pins are your admission into several Derby Festival events including the Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville, Great BalloonFest, Great Bed Races and more!
  • Every Pegasus Pin Sponsorship envelope includes coupons for discounts provided by local retail partners. 
  • Gold Pegasus Pins are eligible for the Gold Pin Grand Prize.

More information on the Pegasus Pin Program and how you can start your collection can be found here: