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'We just love Louisville and love our city': Fans return to Churchill Downs

Many came prepared for the rain, thankful it held off until the mid-afternoon. Guests braced themselves with ponchos, rain jackets and boots.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — This year marks the 148th Oaks Day at Churchill Downs and people from all over the country headed to Louisville for Derby weekend.

Rain moved through Saturday, but Oaks-goers told WHAS11 the rain wouldn’t stop their celebrations.

Many came prepared for the rain, thankful it held off until the mid-afternoon. Guests braced themselves with ponchos, rain jackets and boots, determined not to miss a minute of the action. The rain though did make for some interesting fashion.

“We have jackets, we have ponchos, we have everything,” Michelle from Kansas City said. “We’re from out of town and ordered everything on Amazon to my family’s house here.”

Visitors told WHAS11 they wouldn’t leave even if it poured.

“We’re farmers, we deal with the weather, so whatever happens, we’re going to be here,” Sherri Cisco said.

Long-time Derby lovers came ready to enjoy signature drinks like the Oaks Lily and Derby Mint Julep, though some said they actually prefer the Spire.

“Woodford Reserve bourbon, it is so refreshing, it’s amazing,” one woman said.

In the infield, even the younger crowd brought out their best on the fashion front.

Some sported pink ponchos and rainboots, a nod to Oaks’ signature colors. Others brought more interesting attire, like a jacket decked out in cartoon characters.

“I was at Mall St. Matthews looking for an outfit for my prom coming up and saw this and had to get it,” Chase from New Albany said.

Betting was another big draw of the day, even for first timers like Deborah and Joey Barns.

“A guy at our AirBNB gave us these sheets and shows the first part of the race, what they’ve done, and then the names we liked,” Deborah said.

Joey added they looked at the racing forms and saw were they were placing, so they weren't betting on just names.

For Kentucky Derby regulars, the first year back after the pandemic, even in the rain, was a winner.

“I lost a lot of friends during COVID, so it’s so nice to be back enjoying this beautiful day,” Shima Gettelfinger said. “We just love Louisville and love our city.”

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