January 7, 2019. Louisville, KY. – It’s an early sign of spring in Kentuckiana! New Derby Festival Royalty were crowned this morning. The five women selected to serve as Princesses in the 2019 Kentucky Derby Festival Royal Court were introduced in a ceremony at Macy’s at Oxmoor Center. The Royal Court Program is coordinated by The Fillies, Inc., a volunteer group that works closely with the Festival. Fillies President Debra Rayman joined KDF President and CEO Mike Berry, as well as 2019 Derby Festival Chair Marita Willis, in crowning the newly appointed court. They are:
Mary Baker of Louisville, KY – Mary, 20-years-old, is a Junior at the University of Louisville where she is majoring in Economics and Finance. She is on the raiseRED Executive Board, a Finance intern at GE Appliances, and Community Service Director of Chi Omega sorority. Mary also volunteers at Gilda’s Club of Louisville, and taught English for a summer in Peru.
Brittany (BeeBee) Patillo of Louisville, KY – Brittany, 22-years-old is a Senior at the University of Louisville majoring in Theatre Arts. She is a Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship recipient, a member of the African American Theatre Program, and has been named to the Dean’s List for five consecutive semesters. Brittany is a Youth Coordinator and Advisor for several area churches, as well as a dance instructor for the LaNita Rocknettes School of Dance.
Elizabeth Seewer of Louisville, KY – Elizabeth, 23-years old, is in her second year of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Bellarmine University. She is the President of her program and a Research Scholar at Bellarmine. She received her Bachelor of Arts from DePauw University, where she played soccer and was a member of Alpha Phi – Gamma Chapter. Elizabeth founded the organization Sweet Memories, where she pursues her love for showing children ability through baking.
Allison Spears of Catlettsburg, KY – Allison, 21-years-old, is a Senior at the University of Kentucky where she is majoring in Neuroscience on the pre-law track. She is a Provost Scholar, Member of the Iota Nu chapter of Alpha Phi Fraternity, Vice-President of Organization for the Panhellenic Council, and the reigning Miss TOPS in Lexington. Allison is also an avid volunteer with the American Heart Association helping with numerous events including heart walks, the Go Red for Women Luncheon, and the Heart Ball.
Kelsey Sutton of Brandenburg, KY – Kelsey, 22-years-old, is a Senior at Centre College majoring in mathematics. She has been invited to join the Teach Kentucky 2019 Cohort to teach high school math in the Louisville area starting this August. She is a Faculty Scholar, President of the Eta Omega chapter of Alpha Delta Pi, President of the Society of Future Educators, a Student Coach for the Centre Women’s Basketball Team, and a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society. She also volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House of the Bluegrass.
Two alternates were also chosen – Mia Thompson of Louisville, KY, a Junior at the University of Kentucky, was chosen as first alternate. Cheyenne Richardson of Louisville, KY, a Junior at the University of Louisville, was chosen as the second alternate. They will become Princesses if one of the other women is unable to serve.
These five young ladies will act as ambassadors for the 2019 Kentucky Derby Festival, attending nearly 70 events over a two-week period. They were selected Saturday, January 5, after attending final judging with 30 other finalist candidates. There were 100 original applicants for the Royal Court Program, representing different colleges and universities from around Kentucky and the region. All the applicants went through preliminary judging in November.
One of the five will be crowned the Derby Festival Queen by a spin-of-the-wheel at the annual Fillies Derby Ball on April 6 at the Louisville Marriot Downtown. Each woman will receive a $2000 scholarship ($1000 from the Fillies and $1000 from the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation).
Candidates for the Princess Program must maintain a minimum 3.0 grade-point average and are selected by a panel of three out-of-state judges. Criteria for selection includes knowledge of the Derby Festival, poise, intelligence, personality and campus and community involvement. The first Derby Festival Princess was crowned in 1957, the second year of the Festival. Previous Princesses have included former Kentucky Governor Martha Layne Collins and the late Gail Gorski, the first female pilot ever hired by United Airlines.
Since 1956, the Derby Festival has worked to bring the community together in celebration. The Festival is an independent community organization supported by 4,000 volunteers, 400 businesses and civic groups, Pegasus Pin sponsorships and event participation. It entertains more than 1.5 million people in a two- week period and has a local economic impact of more than $127 million. This involvement has made the Festival the largest single attended event in Kentucky and one of the leading community celebrations in the world.