Thurby Goes Gonzo

Apr 19, 2019 Sara Brown Meehan

Celebrates Hometown Hero Hunter S. Thompson and Groundbreaking Illustrator Ralph Steadman

Features Original Thruby Artwork and poster Signing by Special Guest Ralph Steadman

LOUISVILLE, KY (Thursday, April 18, 2019) – Thurby presented by Old Forester® goes Gonzo this year with a celebration of the late famed journalist and Louisville native Hunter S. Thompson and groundbreakingillustrator and Thurby special guest Ralph Steadman. Now in its sixth year, Thurby marks the official start of Derby weekend and continues the tradition of featuring the best of Kentucky with Bourbon, live local music, thrilling horseracing. Gates open for 11 races on Thursday, May 2 at 11:00 a.m. with the first post at 12:45 p.m. EDT. Thurby will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network from 4:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $22 and are available at

As the exciting highlight of this year’s event, special guest Ralph Steadman partnered with Churchill Downs and the Speed Art Museum to create an original painting to celebrate Thurby Goes Gonzo 2019. The artwork will be featured on a limited edition poster, available for purchase for $25 at the event. Steadman, who attended his first Kentucky Derby in 1970 with his Gonzo partner in crime Hunter S. Thompson, will sign posters in the Plaza from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. The original artwork will be on display at the Kentucky Derby Museum on Thurby through the end of Spring Meet.

This year’s Thurby Goes Gonzo guests will also enjoy the following event highlights:

  • Official Thurby Cocktail The Old Forester Old Fashioned
  • Gonzo Entertainment
    • Local Gonzo artist Grant Goodwine, who studied with Steadman, will create original art in the Plaza
    • Squallis Puppeteers will bring Hunter S. Thompson to life throughout the track
    • The Gonzo photo opp will allow Thurby guests to BECOME THE STORY
    • Hunter S. Thompson aviator sunglass giveaway will allow guests to bring out their inner Gonzo
  • Gonzo Plaza Stage Show
    • Acts throughout the day by local actors, musicians, artists, literary figures and cultural ambassadors. Featured performers include DJ Matt Anthony, host of The Friday Night Sound-Clash and The Jazz Pulse for 91.9 WFPK and owner of Matt Anthony's Record Shop, and the Casey Powell Band

  • 2019 Derby Box Giveaway
  • Eleven Races Including Unbridled Sidney and Opening Verse Overnight Stakes

Recommended attire is whatever reflects your Kentucky spirit – from casual to Derby-inspired.

About Churchill Downs Racetrack

Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented the Kentucky Derby since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 4, 2019. The track’s 2019 Spring Meet is scheduled for April 27-June 29. Churchill Downs has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships nine times.

About Ralph Steadman

Ralph Steadman is a prolific artist who in his 60 year career has produced thousands of groundbreaking and influential artworks. His big break really came in 1970. Having published his first collected book of cartoons, Still Life with Raspberry, he set off to America to cover the Kentucky Derby for Scanlan’s Monthly, where everything would change on his meeting Hunter S. Thompson. Described as, “a Hell’s Angel who had shaved his head,” Steadman set off to meet this maverick journalist at the Kentucky Derby. Legend has it that it took them three days to find each other. Ralph often recalls that Hunter commented when they finally met, “Well they said you were weird, but I did not think you would be that weird!” Warned not to do any of his, “Filthy scribbling,” Ralph almost caused a fight at the Pendennis Club in Louisville before being maced by Hunter to help him escape. Together Ralph and Hunter would develop ‘Gonzo’ journalism, where you do not simply cover the story but become the story. So began a lifelong collaboration, including the iconic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which was originally serialized in Rolling Stone Magazine. Another lifelong association was begun, and Steadman is still listed as Gardening Correspondent for the legendary publication.

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