August 25, 2022. Louisville, KY. – With heavy hearts, the Kentucky Derby Festival mourns the loss of Bridget Sherrill, Vice President of Merchandising, who celebrated her 50th anniversary with the organization this year and was known for her significant role in the Festival’s Pegasus Pin Program.
For Derby Festival staff, Sherrill, who passed away on Aug. 18, was the company’s beloved longtime matriarch, and members of the community often referred to her as “The Pin Lady.”
“We know the Derby Festival would not be what it is today without Bridget’s spirit, her devotion to our organization and her love of Pegasus Pins. Her passion for the Festival and Pins was equally infectious and inspiring,” said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President & CEO. “We were blessed to have her at the heart of our organization for 50 years. Our Festival family will lean on each other through this, as we honor and celebrate her, and continue to share her Festival spirit.”
Sherrill, 77, a Louisville native, worked at the Derby Festival for five decades where she began her career as a part-time employee in 1972. She was hired by Jack Guthrie, former Executive Vice President/Managing Director of the Kentucky Derby Festival.
“I hired Bridget 50 years ago. She was a young, single mother at the time, and I remember her bringing her children with their “blankies” to the office,” Guthrie said. “The dedication she brought to the Festival was really something to admire. Her knowledge, loyalty and dedication were unsurpassed, and the history that went with her will never be able to be replaced. I don’t think the Festival has had a more dedicated employee than Bridget Sherrill.”
As one of the Derby Festival’s first professional staff members, she served in various capacities at the organization, including starting in an administrative role, as well as working in Events and Sales. She ultimately climbed the ranks to become the VP of Merchandising, and it is through her work and passion for the Pegasus Pin Program that Sherrill leaves behind a lasting legacy.
The Pin Program began in 1973 as an awareness campaign. Today, more than 200,000 Pins are produced each year and sold at 1,000 retailers around Kentuckiana. The iconic Pegasus Pin celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022, and since its introduction, Pins have become one of the primary sources of funding for the Festival.
Sherrill was involved in all aspects of the community’s favorite collector’s piece – from the creation to overseeing sales and distribution. Over her 50-year career with the Festival, her oversight of the Pegasus Pin Program has generated millions of dollars in funding for the Kentucky Derby Festival. It has also served as a model for many other special events across the country.
“There are few things more closely associated with the Kentucky Derby Festival than the Pegasus Pin. Since 1973, it has served as a symbol of community pride, admission, financial support and, for many lucky individuals, a way to win prizes,” said Mike Berry, Secretary of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet and former President & CEO of the Kentucky Derby Festival. “The one constant for nearly five decades was the guiding hand of Bridget Sherrill, truly the godmother of a program which is the envy of the special events industry. Bridget has left an indelible mark on the Festival and Kentucky. Each time we pin on a Pegasus Pin, we will remember the difference she made in her hometown — one piece of plastic at a time.”
Sherrill’s accomplishments and award recognitions over the years are numerous both with the Derby Festival and the International Festivals and Events Association. Most recently, at the 2022 Derby Festival They’re Off! Luncheon, she was presented with the prestigious Distinguished Service Award (only the 12th time it has been given out in the Festival’s 67-year history) for her instrumental impact with the Pegasus Pin Program.
In addition to the unforgettable mark that she made on the Kentucky Derby Festival, she was known for her big heart and how she cared for others, especially her family. Sherrill has three children, three stepsons, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Sunday, Aug. 28:
Visitation: 1-6pm., Newcomer Cremations, Funerals & Receptions, 235 Juneau Drive, Louisville
Monday, Aug. 29:
Visitation: 9:30-10:30am., followed by a Service at 10:30 a.m., Chapel in the Woods, 1407 Moser Road, Louisville
Interment: Floydsburg Cemetery, 5600 Old Floydsburg Road, Crestwood, Ky.
View Sherrill’s full obituary here.