As Kentuckians well know, a horse race is always a great excuse for a party. So the first-ever Breeders' Cup week at Keeneland in Lexington will provide plenty of revelry, from the VIPs to the masses.
In some ways, Lexington is taking some cues from its last non-annual equine event — the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
Like 2010, locals can expect night after night of entertainment in the center of downtown with a lineup of free concerts on the courthouse plaza from such local favorites as guitar virtuosos Tee Dee Young and Ben Lacy, and the hottest bluegrass band in the land, Town Mountain. Also, at Fifth Third Bank Pavilion in Cheapside Park, just a couple blocks down from the courthouse, is a lineup of local favorites such as Coralee and the Townies and more.
If art and exhibits are more to your liking, there is a wide variety of possibilities in the Lexington area, including a show by one of Central Kentucky's best-known artists at the Downtown Arts Center and the holdings of some of the area's prominent Thoroughbred farms.
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The Headley-Whitney Museum, a splendid drive down Old Frankfort Pike, features pieces from area farms, from memorabilia to paintings, and a show of Breeders' Cup items. Work from local collectors is also on display at LexArts gallery in ArtsPlace, featuring sporting art from the collection of John and Luanne Milward.
Of course, if you are interested in equine art, the prime venue is the Kentucky Horse Park's International Museum of the Horse, which has several active exhibits.
Main Street's Downtown Arts Center features one of the most popular area artists in American Pyro, spotlighting the glasswork of Stephen Rolfe Powell. Simultaneously, Flying Without Wings, a projection by artist Marjorie Guyon, will be shown on the side of the Arts Center building, and a collection of photographs will be shown across the street at the CentrePointe development.
Area artists also are featured in exhibits by the Lexington Art League at the Loudoun House Gallery and other venues.
But maybe your preferred diversions are geared toward food and drink. You might want to check out Friday night at the beautiful Spindletop Hall, where a trio of guest chefs — Aarón Sánchez, Matt Lambert and Janine Booth — will come together to create a course in what promises to be an incredible meal. The real taste of the Bluegrass is bourbon, and you will have a chance to sample some of Kentucky's best at the Bourbon Backstretch, featuring a Master Distiller's Night on Wednesday and tasting nights Friday and Saturday at The Livery on Main Street.
Folks who can't get to Keeneland for the races might enjoy the Breeders' Cup Bash at the newly renovated Red Mile, with all the food, drink, music and wagering you want in state-of-the art accommodations.
This, of course, is scratching the surface and does not take into account things happening at Keeneland, such as the epic tailgate party at The Hill, and all of the accommodations at the track to make watching the races a huge party in and of itself.