April 17, 2015. Louisville, KY. –With the traditional spin of a wheel Briana Lathon (Bree-AH-nah Lah-THON) of Louisville was named the 2015 Kentucky Derby Festival Queen tonight at the 57th annual Fillies Derby Ball in the Grand Ballroom of the Galt House Hotel. Briana is a senior at Centre College majoring in politics. She is a New Horizon scholar, has studied abroad in France and Ghana and plans to attend law school upon graduating.
This year’s Derby Festival Princesses anxiously awaited the traditional spin-of-the-wheel, performed by Fillies President-elect Linda Miller. The other members of the court include: Kathryn (Katy) Ashby of Hanson, KY, a junior at the University of Louisville; Madison Evans of Louisville, KY, a junior at Georgetown College; Kyle Hornback of Louisville, KY , a freshman at the University of Louisville; and Sophie Knight of Lexington, KY a senior at the University of Louisville.
The members of the Royal Court have been representing the Festival at a variety of events since their selection in January, including Festival Unveiled, the Ford Motor Company Spelling Bee and Macy’s Spring Fashion Show. They were selected as Royal Court members out of more than 100 young women who applied to participate in the program last fall.
Criteria for selection included knowledge of the Derby Festival, poise, intelligence, personality and campus/community involvement. Each woman receives two $1,000 scholarships (one from the Fillies, Inc., and one from the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation) and an official wardrobe.
The Princesses act as ambassadors for the Derby Festival and the city as they represent the community at a variety of functions. The Fillies, Inc. was established to support the Kentucky Derby Festival. Their mission is to organize the traditional Fillies Derby Ball, coordinate the “Royal Court Program,” produce the “Children’s Tea” event, and publish the Official Derby Festival Program. Membership is limited to 250 ladies of our community.
Past Derby Festival Queens include Martha Layne Collins – Kentucky’s first woman Governor, Gail Gorski – the first female pilot for United Airlines and a number of other community leaders. Many say their Derby Festival experience helped them prepare for their future careers.
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.