Aunt Barbara made the sweetest tea I ever tasted.

I thought of her this past week when I visited family and friends in Kentucky. It is always good to return home to my native state, but I especially enjoy being there in the springtime when the dogwood trees bloom and the horses race.

Horse racing is a Kentucky tradition and this weekend swift and majestic three year old thoroughbreds will compete for the blanket of roses in the annual running of the Kentucky Derby in Louisville at Churchill Downs.

I hold close to my heart many cherished memories of afternoons spent at a race track with Aunt Barbara. She loved to find a bench along the rail near the finish line so that she could see the horses thunder down the stretch. I feel connected to her still today, years after her death, when I spend a day at the races with my children.

Kentucky Horse

The Kentucky Derby tradition is renewed each year on the first Saturday in May. The race is often called “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” and has been held every year since 1875.

This weekend in Colorado, I will celebrate the race and Kentucky’s moment in the national spotlight at a Derby Party with friends. I will introduce them to mint juleps and bread pudding. There will be ladies in hats and no shortage of Kentucky bourbon.

The race and associated celebration will connect me as a Kentuckian with my heritage.  I will sing “My Old Kentucky Home” with a tear in my eye and remember the many times I watched the race on television with my family.  And no doubt I will sip on some sweet tea and think of Aunt Barbara.