Barnstable Brown Kentucky Derby Eve Gala canceled again due to COVID-19

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 3:20 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The fillies may take center stage Friday evening at Churchill Downs, but a Derby week tradition in Lexington will not be happening this year because of the pandemic.

Officials announced they’ll be canceling the star-studded Barnstable Brown Kentucky Derby Eve Gala for the second year in a row. The event benefits the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center in Lexington.

In September, officials from Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center were hoping they’d be back for their Derby-Eve Gala in 2021. But, that won’t be the case.

“I think we understood, even last year when it was impossible to hold the gala, that it was not only common sense it was consistent with health advisement,” said Dr. John Fowlkes, Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center director.

Dr. Fowlkes says missing the event is a disappointment from both the standpoints of fundraising and tradition.

“As it plays into the whole Derby Weekend not to have it, it’s culturally a shock. You know these are things we think about should always be there,” Dr. Fowlkes said. “Two good things that come out of it. That everyone has a good time at the Gala, they meet new people, they see celebrities, but at the same time that benefits a good cause at the center.”

Over the last 12 years, before it was canceled in 2020 the gala brought in $16.7 million. Average that out of that span and that comes to about approximately $1.4 million a year.

Dr. Fowlkes says that money is a huge boost, but that money goes more towards growing the center, not day-to-day operations.

“Investment in outreach, investment in research, investments in growing new and different types of faculty,” Dr. Fowlkes said. “It’s always nice for your donors to raise money to help fund your center, but I don’t think the center is really in a situation where without that funding it doesn’t exist.”

Dr. Fowlkes says that, as far as he knows, plans are still to bring the event back in 2022.

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