Growing up in Louisville has been an experience I’ll always be grateful for. From the derby parties, the Kentucky State Fair, and Waterfront Wednesdays, read on to relate to the best memories everyone makes growing up in Louisville.
1. Art Fairs
Though the weather can be crazy, Louisville is full of beautiful days with blue skies and lots of sun. These days are perfect for the many art festivals held each year. My family loves to go to the St. James art fair, the Belknap Fall Festival, World Fest, and more. Some of my favorite memories come from beautiful fall days spent looking at local art with my family and friends.
2. Derby Parties
While some people may think it’s insane to have a whole party dedicated to a two-minute event, Derby parties are a staple of growing up in Louisville. I’m sure they’ll be different as I get older, but the ones from my childhood always involved a bunch of families getting together, putting money in a pool and drawing a horse’s name, the kids running around, parents talking and drinking, and possibly even a bouncy house. Oh, and always some sort of derby pie.
3. Crazy Weather
As a 19-year-old from Louisville, I’ve already witnessed a wind storm in 2008, an ice storm in 2009, and massive flooding just a few weeks ago. All of these combined with the fact that weather in Louisville from day to day is wildly unpredictable means that in general, everyone has to check the forecast before deciding on an outfit for the day.
4. The Louisville Zoo/Science Center
These two go hand-in-hand because my memories of visiting both evoke such similar feelings. Over the summer when my siblings and I were younger, babysitters would take us to the zoo or the science center countless times. We always started at the zoo by looking at the lemurs and circling around to see every animal. Then, the science center fun could never really begin until we stepped into the middle of the hula hoop and tried to pull it over our heads without popping the soap bubble it formed. In high school, I volunteered at the zoo for two years. I always loved seeing so many people, especially kids, learning and enjoying their day.
5. The Kentucky State Fair
The State Fair isn’t just for Louisvillians, but it does take place in Louisville every year. After growing up in Louisville with family and friends, each time we make sure to see all the animals, eat delicious fair food, and look at all the fun booths and art set-ups. There’s something really special about witnessing people from all over your state come together and showcasing parts of their lives.
6. Bardstown Road
Even thinking about this vibrant street evokes warm feelings and memories that stretch from grade school to high school. In grade school, Bardstown Road was the popular spot to get lunch on half days and “hang out.” In other words, sit around and feel cool for not being at home with adults. In high school, once we finally found a parking spot, we popped into each little local shop and took our time going through all the vintage clothes, old records, fancy boutique dresses, and eclectic jewelry. Bardstown Road is where I took guitar lessons, spent quality time with friends and family, and had my first job. It’s a staple of Louisville that I miss every time I leave.
7. Thunder Over Louisville
Though it may seem like Thunder Over Louisville falls under the Derby party category, it’s a completely different event for a Louisvillian. This one night is why none of us are impressed by any other firework show. I’ve spent Thunder at various places growing up in Louisville. When I was younger, my family joined a few other families at a friend’s office building downtown. All the kids played hide and seek in the office cubicles until it came time to gather around the windows and watch the show. I’ve sat in a folding chair at Cherokee park and watched from afar. I’ve also stayed home and watched on TV. Many people go downtown and actually view the show from the waterfront. Wherever you’re watching the fireworks from, everyone knows to wait out the stretch of time after it seems like it’s over and get ready to be awed by the finale.
8. High School Rivalries
I don’t know how it is in other cities, but in Louisville, we have a few big time high school rivalries. The St. X Trinity football game is the event of the fall for students who attend private high schools. Assumption and Sacred Heart put on the Pink and White game every year to raise money for breast cancer. The event is supposed to be light-hearted, but the school spirit is there in abundance. Manuel and Male have claim to the longest running high school football rivalry in the state. It is common in Louisville to be asked where you went to high school, and rivalries are part of why people care about the answer to that question.
9. Local Coffee Shops
To name a few, there is Heine Brothers, Highlands Coffee Company, Please & Thank You, and Quills Coffee. Truthfully, I haven’t been a customer to all of these shops, but the names alone put a smile on my face. Even before I started drinking coffee, I have many fond grade school memories of stopping for hot chocolate. In high school, especially senior year, I could be found at the Heine Brothers at The Loop in the Highlands almost every Friday night doing homework with friends and sipping a steamer. I’m positive that many people in Louisville have similar attachments to their favorite local coffee shop.
10. Waterfront Wednesdays
Waterfront Wednesdays are a bit newer for me than many Louisvillians, as I’ve only been going for about two summers. Now, I always look forward to the last Wednesday of each month in the summer. The vibe so purely encompasses Louisville, and the fact that it’s free means my friends and I can go without much hassle, except for maybe parking. There’s great music, great food, and always great people. Just thinking about it makes me so excited for the summer.
Let us know what you think about growing up in Louisville in the comments below!
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