You don’t have to live in Kentucky to know that the first weekend in May is a huge one for our state. Of course we are all aware that the biggest day is the Kentucky Derby with the fastest two minutes in sports, but Churchill Downs saves Fridays just for the Ladies and the Kentucky Oaks. If you get the chance to go we highly recommend it, even over going to the Derby if you are forced to choose. Its a much easier day as far as lines, parking and crowds go and it is just as fun to dress up!
The Oaks was established in 1875 at the same time as the Derby; it has always been for the top female horses and fittingly, the winner is given a blanket of pink lilies, adorably known as the ‘lilies for the fillies’. The crowd, including the men, swarm the stands with hats, suits and dresses in the color du jour of pinks and spring pastels. Attendance is generally around 100,000 people and it’s certainly a fabulous day out. But for those of us who can’t always make it, we’ve put together a pink, ladies-themed afternoon luncheon so you can still enjoy the special day from home with family and friends.
Taking place on a Friday (and the day before your big Derby Party) we wanted to keep things simple for you. We enlisted the help of Kentucky native Lindsay Jones, owner and designer at Lela Ray Jewelry, for her creative take on making this Oaks lunch breezy and fun. A self admitted non-susie homemaker, which we’d argue against, she made this set up so accessible and easy to put together yourself. Here’s her tips, and some of her fabulous equestrian-themed jewelry and mint julep cups that’ll jazz up your outfit for any of the Triple Crown season!
Lindsay says she’s not a cook in the slightest — she’s more of a skilled shopper — and we were very impressed by her Trader Joe’s finds. She started with her floral arrangement, which featured a lavender rose bouquet. She says she then went to the deli to find something pre-made and was delighted to find the surprisingly refreshing purple chicken salad that matched it. From there she took off with cakes from their bakery, simply dressed up with fruit garnishes, a variety of cheeses from the wide selection available, toast points that “seemed fancy” and of course ingredients for her Pomegranate Mint Juleps. While the traditional drink for the Oaks is the Lilly, Lindsay makes these classic yet modern mint julep cups by hand, so she figured she’d take a note from the boys books of Derby and make a ladies version. She then dressed her table with a mix of Pomegranate, Inc.’s spring floral and equestrian lines to make the table a statement in itself.
In her advice, don’t make it all about having to spend an entire day getting your house and lunch ready. You don’t want to be exhausted — you want to spend time with your girls! Start with something simple like a floral arrangement or a napkin and build from there. Spend the little bit extra to get pre-made food and take the time to make it pretty and look homemade with garnishes and excellent surroundings like the julep cups or bold tablecloth and napkins. The girls had no idea she hadn’t spent all morning prepping, or hadn’t paid a caterer and stylist to come in and set up. According to Lindsay, everyone has a creative strong point, so take that as a starting guide and everything else will come together. As a mother and wife, Lindsay says she doesn’t have a ton of time to socialize — let alone entertain — meaning the one-stop-shop at a well-rounded grocer made the whole process seamless. So add a little money on your Twinspires or TVG betting account, grab your favorite table decor and a few things at your grocery and have a relaxing day watching the Fillies take over Churchill for the Oaks with your best girls!
Kentucky Oaks is Friday, May 4th with post time at 12:45 pm.