is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Best of Bluegrass Blooming

What about B.O.B.?
Best of the Bluegrass Blooming
By Kim Thomas

The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.” —Damon Runyon

Every year around this time, Lexington brings it, spiked with the nectar of the Good-Gawds, Makers Mark Bourbon, a bed race named after this area’s most tolerated law-breaker, Keeneland in bloom, and a convincing array of evidence that indeed this is THE place to be at this time of year.

The Best of the Bluegrass wants to entice you to venture a little outside your southern comfort zone. It might just be something to write home about, like the day you witnessed abeds-on-wheels race named after Lexington’s less than legal character, Belle Brezing (the madam to whom women’s club cookbooks have been devoted). You can also become a well-seasoned chili snob, enjoy a progressive dinner in the city’s Old Vine district, support AVOL’s Red Ribbon Run, or cool your heels in the breeze under the trees near Cheapside Park whilst staking out the trail for the Brown- Forman sponsored Pub Crawl, because it’s no secret that folks will want cool down after a long day of unbridled energy with a friendly libation drawn from our endless reserve of spirits.

Keeneland Gives BackNo matter what people think of Kentucky, with its coaching controversies and 20/20 Mountain Dew mouths, the bluegrass’s undisputed ambience is not lost on the good folks at Keeneland. The Thoroughbred racetrack and sales facility has been the hub of hospitality and good-natured horseplay for so long, it’s the one place where you can take a guest from anywhere in the world, nation or holler for that matter, and make them feel special.

Keeneland spokesperson, Fran Taylor says this is the 5th year of Keeneland’s underwriting of the Best of the Bluegrass. “It celebrates two phenomenal Grade I races, the Maker’s Mark Mile and the Toyota Bluegrass Stakes. Maker’s Mark brings in 4,000 of their Ambassadors to celebrate the traditions of Thoroughbred racing at Keeneland and in central Kentucky for that week. Their Ambassadors love it and we love the fact that they are here.”

Another event on the racing card is a performance by the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra in the Keeneland Walking Ring. The concert will feature selections from the Music of the Horse CD. Profits from CD sales will benefit the UK Symphony and the Keeneland Foundation’s charitable giving program. Taylor describes the performance as a “collaboration between the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra and Keeneland and it was recorded in the fall of 2006 and released later in the year. It was recorded during a live concert at Singletary Center and also during some additional recording sessions. It is a collection of classical music inspired by, or written about the horse. John Nardolillo, the director of UK Symphony Orchestra really embraced the concept and did a great job directing the project.” The concert is being held in the Walking Ring.

Downtown Lexington Corporation’s Laura Farnsworth thinks many people will want to participate in “two events this year that are new to the Best of the Bluegrass line-up. First, on Sunday, April 5, we will be hosting the Chili in Cheapside Park Chili-Cook Off Sunday. Also, we have moved the Kentucky Stars Awards Ceremony, typically held in the fall, to the Best of the Bluegrass festival to promote the best artistic talent in the Commonwealth.”

‘That’s how they roll…
Last year was the inaugural rolling of the Belle Brezing Bed Race, and among those participants were everybody’s favorite drinking club with a running problem, the Horse’s Ass Hash House Harriers, headed up by Heather Auman.

Auman and her harriers have a proven track record. “Last year was the inaugural bed race, and Auman says, “We plan to have one hash team this year. Our sister team, ‘If This Bed’s a Rockin’ won the speed category last year, but they’re not participating this year.” Auman says all a group has to do is, “Put rotation devices below a mattress or box spring (all within the event’s specifications), have four people push and one steer on top the bed.” Last year, there were about 10 teams which were pushed two at a time down Short Street (closed for traffic). After all that “work” is a pub crawl. There are bed races around the country, but this event is unique because it involves a local, historic figure. No stranger to structured chaos, Auman admits that organizing a busy team is difficult. “We broke the team into two parts: an engineering side where we concentrated on building materials and fabrication and a design team where we focused on bed decoration and costumes. During the actual event, there was an obvious speed and power disadvantage to have four women pushing, but we were in it for the experience (and fan favorite), rather than the speed win.”

Speaking of their fellow runner, the late Larry Goodrich (fondly remembered by Ace Readers for his 2008 Bluegrass Bachelor profile, and Memorial Issue the following week, Auman recalls, “Larry was our Belle for the event last year and will be very difficult to replace. His muscular forearms, wide shoulders, and chiseled jaw made it all the more comical that he wasn’t the traditional, feminine Belle figure. He came up with the name Squeals on Wheels. After Alex finished with the base race bed, Larry and I did some small modifications, added a push bar, canopy, and brakes.” The HAHH group does plan to honor Larry “in a classy way yet to be revealed.”

Auman credits the five people that were on the HAHH’s main team last year, “but we had friends join in to help. Alex Meade, a master bicycle builder, helped us immensely with therace bed frame last year and we could not have done it without his mechanical skills. Schellers was generous with donating two bicycles for our wheels and steering mechanisms. Goodwill gave us a great deal on bed frames and some costuming and Habitat Restore helped by providing us with some building materials.”

Auman remembers a dramatic moment of last year’s race when two beds collided into pieces during a final stretch, “both teams picked up pieces of the bed and dragged them to the finish line. There were hundreds of spectators getting a chuckle from the event lining both sides of Short Street!”

This year’s likely to prove as eventful. ■

For dates, times and programming, go to the Best of the Bluegrass website. (Save the Date now for the 20th Anniversary celebration of Ace’s Annual Best of Lex, on stands September 17. Readers vote throughout August. Category suggestions are being taken now. Stay tuned to for info.)

No comments: