January 9, 2017. Louisville, KY. – A sign of spring in Kentuckiana, new Derby Festival Royalty was named this morning. The five women selected to serve as Princesses in the 2017 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 Kathy Bingham joined KDF President and CEO Mike Berry, as well as 2017 Derby Festival Chair Lisa Stevenson, in crowning the newly appointed court. They are:
Kailee Barnes of Louisville, KY – Kailee, 19-years-old, is a sophomore at the University of Kentucky majoring in Human Health Sciences as a Pre-Med student. She is a Presidential Scholar, on the Dean’s List, and is the Sisterhood Chair of Kappa Delta –Epsilon Omega Chapter. Kailee serves on the Pre-Medical Activities Council and volunteers at UK Hospital in Lexington.
Natalie Brown of Crestwood, KY – Natalie, 21-years-old, is a Senior at the University of Louisville majoring in Communications. She is a Trustees Scholar, Honors Scholar, on the Student Orientation Staff and serves as a Cardinal Ambassador. Natalie hosts a Student News Show at UofL and also volunteers for Heuser Hearing Institute with the Delta Zeta Sorority.
Sidney Cobb of Frankfort, KY – Sidney, 20-years-old, is sophomore at the University of Louisville. A Pre-Law student, she is majoring in Political Science and History. Sidney is a National Merit Scholar, a McConnell Scholar, on the Dean’s List, and is a Heather French Henry Quality of Life Winner. Sidney is Vice Chair of Engaging Issues for the Student Activities Board and also serves as a Citizenship Instructor at Kentucky Refugee Ministries.
Daphne Woolridge of Louisville, KY – Daphne, 18-years-old, is a Freshman at the University of Louisville majoring in Secondary Education English with a minor in Pan-African Studies. She is a Porter Scholar, Whitney M. Young Scholar, on the Dean’s List and received over $1 million dollars in awards and scholarships upon graduating from Louisville’s Male High School. Daphne is part of the Minority Teacher Recruitment Program, a C.O.N.E.C.T Mentor and volunteers at Indian Trail Elementary.
Taylor Marchelle Young of Louisville, KY – Taylor, 20-years-old, is a Junior at the University of Louisville majoring in Secondary Education. She is a Woodford R. Porter Scholar, on the Dean’s List, part of the Minority Teacher Recruitment Program, and serves as an Event Coordinator for the Society of Porter Scholars. Taylor also volunteers for Boys and Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana.
Two alternates were also chosen – Macey Mayes of Central City, KY, a Junior at the University of Louisville, was chosen as the first alternate. Alexis Skaggs of Rineyville, KY, a Senior at Western Kentucky University, 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 2017 Kentucky Derby Festival, attending nearly 70 events over a two-week period. They were selected Saturday, January, 7, after attending final judging with 24 other finalist candidates. There were more than 130 original applicants for the Royal Court Program, representing 24 different colleges and universities. 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 8 at the Louisville Marriott 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.