Ford Motor Company Spelling Bee

The Kentucky Derby Festival recognizes the importance of public health and safety – it is always the Derby Festival’s top priority and we appreciate everything that is being done for all of us. We want to do our part as well, and with an abundance of caution, have decided to postpone the 2020 Kentucky Derby Festival until later in the year.

The schedule may look a little different as we move things into a new timeframe, but there will be a Thunder Over Louisville, a miniMarathon, a Pegasus Parade, and many other events in between. As you can imagine, there are a lot of moving parts, and once we get all the details finalized, we will release a new schedule.



The Ford Motor Company Kentucky Derby Festival Spelling Bee showcases Kentucky and Southern Indiana’s top spellers in a suspenseful competition that leaves only one standing. To advance to this event, students must first win their county competition. The top five finishers receive savings bonds from the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation, while the overall champion gets to ride on the Winner’s Float in the Pegasus® Parade.


Studying for the Spelling Bee? Download the Official Spelling Study Guide HERE!

1994: Eric Shields / Franklin County, KY
“succumbence” – the act or process of yielding to a superior strength

1995: Tania James / Jefferson County, KY
“spinescent” – tapering to a sharp, rigid point

1996: Sarah Seelig / Jefferson County, KY
“crescendo” – swelling in volume of sound

1997: David Mandel-Anthony / Fayette County, KY
“stratose” – arranged in layers

1998: Christie Baugher / Floyd County, IN
“tumid” – marked by swelling

1999: Kyra Davies / Fayette County, KY
“ennoble” – to elevate in degree or excellence

2000: Seth Stogsdill / Lincoln County, KY
“parapet” – a rampart raised upon or above the main wall in a permanent fortification

2001: James Croushorn / Harlan County, KY
“Sagittarius” – the ninth sign of the zodiac

2002: John Tamplin / Jefferson County, KY
“Guernsey” – one of a breed of dairy cattle originally raised on the English Channel island of Guernsey

2003:  John Tamplin / Jefferson County, KY
“idiosyncratic” – a habit or mannerism particular to an individual.

2004:  John Tamplin / Jefferson County, KY
“pansil” – a Buddhist rite of ceremony before meetings.

2005: John Tamplin / Jefferson County, KY
“chatelaine” – a clasp or chain worn at the waist for holding keys, a purse or a watch.

2006: John Tamplin / Jefferson County, KY
“funambulist” – one who performs on a tightrope or a slack rope.

2007: Macy Purcell / Grayson County, KY
“symbiosis” – the living together of two dissimilar organisms

2008: Joshua Caplinger / Carter County, KY
“eucrasia” – a normal state of health

2009: Priyanka Sheth / Warren County, KY
“regime” – a mode or system of government

2010: Emily Keaton / Pike County, KY
“sclerosis” – a hardening of tissue or other anatomical features

2011: Emily Keaton / Pike County, KY
“ankylosaur” – an armor-plated dinosaur

2012: Emily Keaton / Pike County, KY
“oppugn” – to fight against or call into question

2013: Emily Keaton / Pike County, KY
“corvee” – labor exacted by a local authority for little or no pay or instead of taxes and used especially in the maintenance of roads

2014: Paul Keaton / Pike County, KY
“chignon” – a roll or knot of hair worn at the back of the head or a especially at the nape of the neck

2015:  Paul Keaton / Pike County, KY
“insentient” – without sensation or consciousness

2016:  Tara Singh / Jefferson County Private Schools, KY
“Eponym” – (of a person) giving their name to something

2017:  Tara Singh / Jefferson County Private Schools, KY
“Gloxinia” – Any of several tropical South American plans of the genus Sinningia

2018: Tara Singh/Jefferson County Private Schools, KY
“Rathskeller” – A restaurant or tavern, usually below street level, that serves beer

2019: Ophelia Lorenz/Jefferson County Private Schools, KY
“Chihuahua” – A dog of very small breed developed in Mexico, probably from an indigenous breed, having erect pointed ears and a soft ,usually short-haired dog.