March 11, 2014. Louisville, KY.   – ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit will be the featured speaker for the official corporate kick-off of the 2014 Kentucky Derby Festival – the They’re Off! Luncheon on Friday, April 11. In “GameDay” style, Herbstreit will address approximately 1,500 Derby Festival supporters and patrons in attendance for this community tradition, which begins at 11:30 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Galt House East Hotel, site of the festive event since 1974.

“He’s known as one of the best college football minds of his generation.  We think his presence will be a game changer as we kick-off the 59th annual Kentucky Derby Festival,” said Mike Berry, KDF President and CEO.

Since 1995, Kirk has been a college football analyst for ESPN/ABC.  He joined ESPN’s College GameDay program in 1996, making 2014 his 19th season on the Emmy Award winning show.  In 2006, he joined Brent Musburger for ABC’s Saturday Night Prime Time broadcast, television’s first ever weekly prime time college football game.  Kirk has also called the last eight Rose Bowl games and the last six BCS National Championship games.  Kirk has been nominated seven times for the Sports Emmy Award as television’s top studio analyst and is a two time winner of the Award.  In addition, College GameDay is a three-time winner of the Sports Emmy Award as television’s top studio show.  He had his wife reside in Nashville, Tennessee with their 4 boys.

First held in 1957, the second year of the Derby Festival, the They’re Off! Luncheon serves as the time-honored kick-off to each year’s Festival. Herbstreit, joins Dick Vitale, Terry Bradshaw, Bill Walton, Archie Manning, Greg Gumbel, Magic Johnson, Julius Erving, Larry King, Bob Costas, Robin Roberts, Cawood Ledford, Phil Simms and Howard Cosell in a long list of luminaries who have entertained They’re Off! Luncheon audiences for the past 58 years. This year’s luncheon will also feature the presentation of the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Volunteer of the Year Award and the Fifth Third Bank Silver Horseshoe Award for service to the community.

Tickets for the event cost $76 each or $608 for a table of eight and are available on a very limited basis. For tickets or more information, call (502) 584-FEST or visit www.kdf.org. Contributing sponsors for the event are Business First, Fifth Third Bank and Kentucky Proud.

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. This involvement has made the Festival the largest single attended event in Kentucky and one of the leading community celebrations in the world.

June 21 - June 21