Governor, First Lady Unveil 2021 Derby Celebration Poster

Tourism officials celebrate the 147th Kentucky Derby with poster unveiling ceremony

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 19, 2021) – Gov. Andy Beshear and First Lady Britainy Beshear joined the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, the Kentucky Derby Festival and the 2021 Derby Festival Royal Court for the official unveiling of the 2021 Governor’s Derby Celebration Poster (see photos here.)

“The Kentucky Derby will have some fans in-person this year. This is what is possible through our successful rollout of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. The more Kentuckians who get their shot of hope, the more we can gather safely and ease restrictions,” Gov. Beshear said. “Thoroughbred horse racing is many things in Kentucky: it’s sport, culture, business and heritage. It’s also art, and today I couldn’t be happier to be taking part in this time-honored tradition of presenting a Governor’s Celebration Derby Poster. This year’s poster exemplifies the excitement and enthusiasm that surrounds the greatest two minutes in sports. It also serves as a wonderfully vibrant and cherished memento of the race for the public.”

To celebrate the 147th Kentucky Derby, Lexington artist Lennon Michalski designed this year’s Governor’s Derby Celebration Poster to portray the commonwealth’s long-standing history of horseracing. Michalski’s inspiration for the poster came from a time when he once attended the races with his young son. The excitement of watching from the rail and holding a winning ticket were his inspiration for the 2021 poster.

“Growing up in Kentucky, the horse industry and the Derby have always been a big part of our culture,” said Michalski. “I wanted to capture the electric atmosphere of both the Kentucky Derby and the times we are living in today.”

The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in U.S. history, generating an estimated economic impact of nearly $217 million annually for the commonwealth. Since 1875, Kentucky has produced “the most exciting two minutes in sports” despite historical events like the Great Depression, World Wars I and II, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While history may sometimes change the way we celebrate, partners like the Kentucky Derby Festival continue to find creative ways to bring Kentuckians together to honor the commonwealth’s Derby traditions,” said Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Mike Berry. “The poster exchange ceremony is an example of those traditions, and reinforces our shared commitment for connecting people with the unforgettable experience that can only be found in Kentucky.”

Leaders from the Kentucky Derby Festival (KDF) and the 2021 Derby Festival Royal Court joined the Governor and First Lady for the unveiling ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda. KDF is responsible for orchestrating the award-winning, two-week celebration leading up to the Kentucky Derby. The festival kicked off this year’s celebration with a touring Pegasus Parade and a reimagined Thunder Over Louisville.

“After this past year, it was so important for the Derby Festival that we find new ways to bring our favorite Kentucky traditions to the community,” said Matt Gibson, KDF president and CEO. “While our events are different, just being able to do something gives us hope and is a sign of good things to come.”

During the ceremony, Louisville artist Andy Perez and KDF officials also presented the 2021 Official Kentucky Derby Festival Poster to the Governor and First Lady. This year’s Derby Festival Poster titled “Going Up” is available for purchase online. Judy Hess, KDF Board Chair, also presented the Official 2021 Gold Pegasus Pin on behalf of the Derby Festival.

“The Pegasus Pins are a treasured symbol of spring and just one way to share the Derby Festival spirit that we’ve all missed,” said Hess, the 2021 KDF Board Chair.

The 147th Kentucky Derby will be held with limited capacity on Saturday, May 1 at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

To watch the unveiling ceremony, visit the Governor’s YouTube or Facebook page.

To purchase the 2021 Governor’s Celebration Derby Poster, visit the Historic Properties Online Store. A portion of the proceeds will benefit both the Horses and Hope Program and the Equine Health and Welfare Alliance Inc.

For the latest Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet updates, follow the cabinet on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. To learn more about the cabinet, visit

Read about other key updates, actions and information from Gov. Beshear and his administration at and the Governor’s official social media accounts FacebookTwitter and YouTube.