With Derby only a few furlongs away, there really is no rest for weary Louisvillians, especially when glancing at this weekend’s calendar of events. The good news is, it looks like the weather is going to cooperate and give us some of that vibrant Kentucky sunshine we’ve been missing of late.

And since all of these events take place outdoors, you can bet all the planners and organizers are releasing a collective sigh of relief.

Here’s a look at a few of this weekend’s highlights. Remember, sleep is overrated, especially late April in Louisville.

Chow Wagon & Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville — Thursday, April 25-Friday, May 3
The Velcro Pygmies play Thursday, May 2, at the Chow Wagon. | Courtesy of Velcro Pygmies

This year, Kentucky Derby Festival’s Chow Wagon/Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville will be setting up shop for nine straight days at Waterfront Park starting Thursday, April 25. So from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, you can expect corn dogs, carnival rides, live music, beer, adult beverages, cotton candy and much more, and all it costs is a Derby pin, which you can get around town or at the gate.

There basically is something for everyone each day, and special events include a Drag Show Brunch (April 28), HappyTail Hour (April 29), a Louisville City FC Tailgate Party (April 30), and a visit from the Budweiser Clydesdales (May 1), among others. Below is the full live music lineup:

The Great Stage

  • Chris Lane — Friday, April 26
  • Jack Harlow — Saturday, April 27
  • Building 429, Stars Go Dim — Sunday, April 28
  • Cameo — Tuesday, April 30
  • Kongos, C2, The Brothers Reed — Wednesday, May 1
  • The Struts, Mo Lowda & The Humble — Thursday, May 2
  • My Posse in Effect (A Tribute to the Beastie Boys) — Friday, May 3

The Miller Lite Music Stage

  • Juice Box Heroes — Thursday, April 25
  • MaryMary — Friday, April 26
  • The Goldy Locks Band — Saturday, April 27
  • Unlimited Show Band — Sunday, April 28
  • Bourbon Straights — Monday, April 29
  • Soul Circus — Tuesday, April 30
  • J.D. Shelburne — Wednesday, May 1
  • The Velcro Pygmies — Thursday, May 2
  • Kevin Jaggers — Friday, May 3
Old Louisville Live — April 26-27
The Crashers kick off Old Louisville Live on Friday, April 26. | Courtesy of The Crashers

This free neighborhood concert series begins Friday with The Crashers and takes place on back-to-back nights for three weekends throughout the summer in Old Louisville’s Central Park. The event features food trucks, beer from Old Louisville Brewery and bourbon from Heaven Hill, among other things.

The music runs from 7 to 10 p.m. each night. Here is the schedule:

  • The Crashers — Friday, April 26
  • In Lightning — Saturday, April 27
  • Brutally Handsome — Friday, May 10
  • The Monarchs — Saturday, May 11
  • Hora Certa Brazilian Jazz — Friday, Sept. 6
  • J.D. Shelburne Band — Saturday, Sept. 7
Cherokee Triangle Art Fair — April 27-28
The Cherokee Triangle Art Show attracts thousands of visitors each year. | Photo by Jim Reed

Always held the weekend before Derby, the Cherokee Triangle Art Fair lures thousands to the Highlands with more than 200 local and regional artists, food, drink and much more. The juried art show is in its 48th year, and as always, it’s free, family friendly and runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

One highlight for many Louisvillians is collecting the green plastic beer cups sold at the event. No cupboard in town is complete without them, and they come in quite handy for scooping dog food or cat poop, growing mint in a windowsill or drinking your juice.

Churchill Downs Opening Night — Saturday, April 27
Opening Night at Churchill Downs includes the arts. | Courtesy of Churchill Downs

And just like that, the horses are here! Opening night at Churchill will be abuzz with local arts and arts organizations, since the annual Fund for the Arts’ Awards in the Arts event takes place the same night. But even if you’re not attending that gala, you can still enjoy the evening, the performances, the cocktails and the horses, of course.

There will be live music by Karen Chavis and the Zach Langoria Project, as well as pop-up performances by Kentucky Shakespeare, Louisville Leopards and Louisville Listens. Gates open at 5 p.m., and the first race is at 6. Tickets start at $17.

Schnitzelburg Walk & Flea Off Market — Saturday, April 27
Monnik is located at 1036 E. Burnett Ave. | Courtesy of Monnik Beer Co.

Sounds like the Germantown-Schnitzelburg neighborhoods will be booming Saturday with the bi-annual Schnitzelburg pub crawl as well as a pop-up event from the Flea Off Market, located smack dab in the middle of all the activities in front of Monnik Beer Co. The free market will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and feature all the usual vintage vendors, live music, outdoor games and more, and then the street party will continue until about 11 p.m.

Organizers promise beer, brats and bands at the kid and pet-friendly event, and those bands include King Kong, Cereal Glyphs, The Kids Born Wrong, Tall Squares, Adventure and many more.

Audubon Park Dogwood Festival — Saturday, April 27
Audubon residents are encouraged to shine a spotlight on their dogwood trees at night. | Courtesy of Audubon Park

Although some of you may not have heard of this event, it’s now in its 48th year! Hosted by the city of Audubon Park and held at Henderson Park, the Dogwood Fest celebrates the arrival of spring. It also actually traces its roots back to World War II, when Audubon residents would plant trees in honor of relatives serving in the military.

In 1971, it became an official festival, and to this day it features family-friendly activities as well as food and beverages. Participating food trucks include Black Rock Grille, Smok’N Cantina, Bourbon Bent BBQ, Ehrler’s Ice Cream and more, and there will be live music from the Disney Sing-a-Long Girls, Bourbon Revival Bluegrass Band and That Band.

The free fest runs from 3 to 10 p.m. at Henderson Park, 3219 Wren Road.

Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."