August 31, 2023. Louisville, KY. – The search is on for new Kentucky Derby Festival royalty! Young women from Kentucky or Southern Indiana who are full-time college students (in at least their 2nd year) are eligible. Applications open Tuesday, Sept. 5, and the deadline to submit for the 2024 Royal Court is October 15. Applications must be submitted online at KDF.org/RoyalCourt.

“Naming the Royal Court each year is one of the Derby Festival’s longest-running traditions and begins the countdown to our favorite time of year,” said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President & CEO. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent the Festival and the community. We’re excited to see who will reign over our 2024 celebration.”

The Royal Court program celebrates the state’s most civic-minded and academically achieving college students. Each year, five young women are chosen as Derby Festival Princesses to represent the Kentucky Derby Festival, The Fillies®, the City of Louisville, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky as official ambassadors for the springtime tradition of the Festival. Then, one of the Derby Princesses® is crowned the Derby Queen® by a spin-of-the-wheel at the annual Fillies Derby Ball®.

“Having the opportunity to serve on the 2023 Royal Court was an absolute honor,” said Mahshad Taheri, Queen of the 2023 Royal Court. “Given my immigrant background, it was very rewarding for me to be able to engage with young women in the local community and empower them to reach for the stars and make their dreams become realities no matter their demographics. I will forever cherish the memories I have made throughout my journey on the Court and as Kentucky Derby Festival Queen.”

Each member of the Royal Court receives two $1,000 scholarships – one from The Fillies, Inc., and one from the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation. In addition to other sponsor gifts, each woman also receives a complimentary wardrobe.

The Derby Festival Royal Court® program is overseen by members of The Fillies, Inc., a non-profit organization with 250 community volunteers. Since 1957, past Derby Festival Queens and Courts have been making an impression on their community. They include Martha Layne Collins, Kentucky’s first woman Governor, Miss Kentucky 2022 Hannah Edelen, Miss Kentucky 2023 Mallory Hudson, and a number of other community leaders.

The Royal Court selection process is a self-nominating procedure. Applicants must be residents of Kentucky or the metropolitan area, including Clark, Floyd and Harrison counties in Indiana, and full-time college students (in at least their 2nd year), with a minimum accumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.  Candidates must also be poised, outstanding in the community and 18 years old on or before December 31, 2023.

More information and the 2024 application can be found online at KDF.org/RoyalCourt.

June 21 - June 21