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Kentucky Derby Festival Battle of the Belles returns May 1st

March 7, 2019. Louisville, KY.   – The jousting has begun for the 2019 Great Steamboat Race set for Wednesday, May 1, on the Ohio River. Details of this year’s race were announced at a press conference this morning. Two boats will compete for bragging rights on the Ohio River in 2019 – the hometown Belle of Louisville and her rival from up river, the Belle of Cincinnati.

Belle of Louisville

The 14-mile course on the Ohio River starts and finishes at the Clark Memorial Bridge. In a new twist, 2 VIPs will be retrieved from the shoreline before the boats turn at Captains Quarters to race back to the finish line. The winner will be presented with the set of 12-point Silver Antlers at the post-race ceremony.

“One of the oldest traditions of the Derby Festival, the Great Steamboat Race always draws a crowd and our attention to the banks of the Ohio River,” said Mike Berry, Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO. “Even though the race has evolved with different formats and vessels over the years, May 1st will be just as exciting as we see who crosses under the Second Street bridge first to take home the antlers.”

Representatives from both steamboats, as well as the Kentucky Derby Festival, also participated in a Four Roses Bourbon tasting this morning to determine which single-barrel bourbons would be served aboard the Belle of Louisville and Belle of Cincinnati during the race. Passengers on board both boats have the opportunity to sample the two bourbons and vote for their favorite. The boat with the winning bourbon will receive a mini bourbon barrel trophy at the end of the race.

Boarding for the Great Steamboat Race will take place from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., with all the boats departing the shore at 5:45 for a 6 p.m. start. Each boat will be assigned two judges, in addition to an overall event judge from the Derby Festival. The Awards Ceremony will take place immediately following the race at the Chow Wagon in Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront.

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