Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Celebrating the Kentucky Derby, Minnesota style May 2, 2015

The marquee on the Paradise Center for the Arts announces the Kentucky Derby Party.

The marquee on the Paradise Center for the Arts announces the Kentucky Derby Party.

IT WASN’T CHURCHILL DOWNS. But the Paradise Center for the Arts in historic downtown Faribault drew a fashionable crowd to watch the greatest two minutes in sports Saturday afternoon.

A guest arrives for the Derby party.

A guest arrives for the Kentucky Derby party in downtown Faribault.

Attendees view the hat-themed exhibit in the gallery.

Attendees view the hat-themed exhibit in the gallery.

More great hats.

More great hats.

I was there, sporting a wide-brimmed hat that made me feel like a horse with blinders. I’ve concluded that I’m not comfortable wearing an over-sized hat. But I delighted in viewing all of the stylish Kentucky Derby attire.

A poster in an exterior window promotes the Derby event.

A poster in an exterior window promotes the Derby event.

There was even a horseshoe shaped cake.

There was even a horseshoe shaped cake.

"Frilly Filly" by Audrey Sand, art in the gallery.

“Frilly Filly” by Audrey Sand, art in the gallery.

The Big Hats & Big Hearts Auction for the Arts and Derby Party featured fashion, food, a hat-themed gallery exhibit and live and silent auctions.

The auctioneer bought his yellow leisure suit in the early 1970s.

The auctioneer bought his yellow leisure suit in the early 1970s.

The auctioneer even arrived in a 1970s yellow leisure suit complete with horse print tie.

The Paradise Center for the Arts was decorated with lots of red roses.

The Paradise Center for the Arts was decorated with lots of red roses.

Fresh mint leaves for the mint juleps.

Fresh mint leaves for the mint juleps.

Fans watched the race on the big screen in the theatre.

Fans watched the race on the big screen in the theatre.

There were red roses and mint juleps and raucous roaring as American Pharaoh edged out Firing Line to win the 141st Kentucky Derby. Carpe Diem, the horse I chose, finished tenth. My husband’s finished second.

The live auction begins.

The live auction begins.

Me, ready for the Derby party.

Me, ready for the Derby party.

Tickets for mint juleps.

Tickets for mint juleps.

Win or lose, it didn’t matter to me. I was there to support the arts, view the fashions and try a mint julep for the first time.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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16 Responses to “Celebrating the Kentucky Derby, Minnesota style”

  1. hotlyspiced Says:

    What a wonderful occasion. I do love it when a town comes together and everyone dresses for the occasion. Your hat might have been challenging to wear but it’s gorgeous and you look really lovely. The cake is stunning too and I do love all the touches of red. It also seems like Spring has finally arrived? xx

    • Thank you, Charlie. Oh, yes, the cake. You would love the cake. Yes, spring has arrived in Minnesota. In the eighties here yesterday. Beautiful. Typically the weather is not this warm this early in the spring.

  2. Janis ray Says:

    JanIs from WCHS
    WHAT A GREAT EVENT! Your hats were beautiful.

  3. That looks like fun. I’m not much of a hat person either.

  4. Sue Ready Says:

    Audrey, you looked stylish and perfect for such a fun event. I really liked the creativity that went into planning the event. The cake looked amazing.

  5. Beth Ann Says:

    Oh your hat is adorable and you pulled it off perfectly. What a fun event. I have to add this to my bucket list–actually going to one in person. I love the whole idea !

    • When I bought the hat a long time ago (at that shop in the old church; the one you and I visited), the lady told me some people can wear hats and some can’t. She told me that I could.

      I am thinking my family should plan a Derby party for my mom next spring. She would love it. The hats are already made as we were supposed to host a Derby party, but then it got cancelled.

  6. Sweet Posy Dreams Says:

    Wonderful. Thanks for including the photo of yourself. You looked great. We seemed to have been on the same wavelength on our picks. LIke your husband, I chose Firing Line. I see you had a Keen Ice ticket — that was our son’s pick. Looks like a fun event.

  7. What FUN – Loving the Hats – Great Captures 🙂

  8. Littlesundog Says:

    You look fabulous, Audrey!! So pretty! We stopped outdoor work briefly to come inside to watch the event. We were not nearly as festively dressed as you – shorts and t-shirts, FD in a ball cap and me a sun visor.


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