Kentucky Derby

A breakfast no longer, governor's Derby event draws smaller crowd

Gov. Steve Beshear showed Simon Potts, 2, how to ride a toy horse as his mother, Amy Potts of Frankfort, looked on at the Governor's Derby Celebration.
Gov. Steve Beshear showed Simon Potts, 2, how to ride a toy horse as his mother, Amy Potts of Frankfort, looked on at the Governor's Derby Celebration.

FRANKFORT — After a night of entertaining about 400 guests — many for economic development reasons — at the Executive Mansion, Gov. Steve Beshear arose at 6 a.m. on Derby Day 139 to participate in the Governor's Derby Celebration in downtown Frankfort.

Since taking office in 2007, Beshear has transformed the Governor's Derby Breakfast.

The free Derby breakfast that Gov. A.B. "Happy" Chandler started as a private get-together for a few friends in the 1930s eventually turned into a public spectacle that for years attracted about 15,000 guests for a free country ham breakfast near the Capitol.

Under Beshear, the event has become more of a street fair in downtown Frankfort; a roast pork sandwich Saturday cost $6.

The downtown celebration, with its arts and crafts displays and entertainment, attracts a smaller crowd of several hundred, but there is no shortage of youngsters making memories in Frankfort on the first Saturday in May.

Beshear and first lady Jane Beshear started Saturday's celebration by kicking off the second annual Derby Dash for 2- and 3-year-olds in front of the YMCA building on Broadway.

They tried to shake hands with and encourage the fidgety runners and their proud parents.

At the Kentucky Arts Council Tent on the lawn of the Old State Capitol, Beshear straddled a wooden toy "horse" to show Simon Potts, 2, and his mother, Amy Potts of Frankfort, how jockeys do their thing.

Beshear seemed to be having more fun than the youngster.

The Beshears had labeled this year's activities in Frankfort the 77th annual Governor's Derby Celebration, avoiding the term "breakfast."

Will the days of the big Derby breakfasts ever return?

"If we did that again, it would be extremely costly," Beshear said while walking down Frankfort's Broadway.

Estimated costs to taxpayers for the big breakfasts have run from $100,000 to $150,000.

"And merchants in the city of Frankfort tell us they like it downtown, the way it is now," the governor said.

Jane Beshear said the Saturday morning event on Derby Day in Frankfort "still has smiles and kids."

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