Kentucky businesses embracing rush of Derby visitors
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Some of the state’s most well-known tourist attractions are taking advantage of the Kentucky Derby’s estimated $400 million economic impact.
“My father and I here, we’re both avid whiskey drinkers and enthusiasts, some might say connoisseurs,” Raphael Even-hen said.
The two of them were born and raised in the Canadian city of Montreal and said they are excited to explore Kentucky’s bourbon distilleries.
Bourbon tours are already filling up. Personal bus tours, like the Kentucky Bourbon Boys, have been booked for several months.
“We had a person call the other day to book for 2024 because it’s the 150th running of the Derby and he’s already planning ahead,” CEO Tim Hagan said.
Many distilleries also offer unique experiences for Derby week, like as live music and food trucks, Hagan said.
Hagan says not only does his Louisville business benefit from this rush of visitors, it gives him a chance to help surrounding cities.
“We take people out as ambassadors for Kentucky,” he said, “and so we show them the beautiful horse farm area, out east in the Frankfort area, and Versailles and Lexington. Then we take them down to Bardstown and they see the bourbon capitol of the world and they love it.”
When visitors are asked what comes to mind when they hear the word “Louisville,” many will point to the famous bat factory. The Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory is experiencing one of the busiest times of the year.
“From Wednesday to about Friday, we see a good uptick in traffic,” Andrew Soliday, the marketing director for Hillerich and Bradsby Co., said. “It’s a little bit quiet on Saturday because a lot of people are down at the track, but that Sunday we also get people departing the city so we kind of get the front end and the back end of it.”
While the events will bring them to Kentucky, many say their experiences here will bring them back, like Brian Olson from California.
“I’ve never been to Kentucky at all,” Olson said. “It’s nice. We’re from a big city but this city just feels like a big city in a small city.”
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