A Derby Winner from off the Beaten Path

A Derby Winner from off the Beaten Path

Owensboro, Kentucky is a great town. If you're ever there, be sure to visit the Owensboro landmarks: the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and then head over to Moonlite BBQ. They never disappoint.

Another great asset to Owensboro is their schools. Imagine being in a town for a whole week, visiting five schools - and never, not one time - ever have to tell a group of kids to get quiet. That's how it is in Owensboro and it's been like that since we started visiting there nine years ago. That's what happens when you have great central office leadership, dedicated teachers with high expectations and family support at home. It's a district that has supported our outreach program since it began; so despite the fact that I'm not scheduling "repeat schools" this year, I gave an exception to Owensboro. Two schools - Tamarack Elementary and East View Elementary have had visits from our program every year since it began, and I certainly wanted to keep the streak going.

Unfortunately, I had a sick child to deal with on Wednesday and had to reschedule Tamarack for a February date. On Thursday, I visited East View and finished the week at Deer Park Elementary. Normally, I would have spent the night in Owensboro and made a serious dent in the Moonlite BBQ buffet. But with foster kids at home now, I drove the two hour trip after the school day was over.

At Deer Park Elementary, all of the programs went like I knew they would - really well.   But I was given a big surprise at lunchtime.  Moonlite is world-famous for its Owensboro style BBQ, but the locals claim Old Hickory Pit is the best. I've also been to George's and Old South BBQ and both are very good. This is a community that takes its BBQ so seriously, it hosts the International BBQ Festival every May.  So I was surprised that Deer Park Elementary just might have the best BBQ is in Owensboro!  Maybe I was just really hungry, but it was really, really good. 

While Deer Park is special for it BBQ, the other school I visited is special in its own right. East View Elementary is just outside Owensboro next to a small community called Thruston. Since I've been there every year, most of the students know who I am and know what to expect; although they see a different program every year. Every year it's the same thing: great kids, great teachers, great experience. But what makes East View even more special is what is across the street from the school.  

While most of our Derby winners are from the inner bluegrass area around Lexington, there is one from Owensboro.  Across the street from East View is a farm called Spend A Buck Farm, named after our 1985 Kentucky Derby winner who ran the Derby in, at that time, the third fastest time.   Unfortunately, the farm has deteriorated over the years. The wooden fencing is falling apart, and I had heard a few years ago the property was in danger of being sold and subdivided. The good news is that the farm was recently bought by former major league baseball player and former Owensboro resident Brad Wilkerson who plans to fix it up. As you can see from the picture above, it's a beautiful piece of property and just another thing that makes the Owensboro community a great place to live.

Watch Spend a Buck crush Derby field here.

Ronnie Dreistadt

Manager of Education Services for the Kentucky Derby Museum.