In 1959, Francis Askew Davis and sixteen friends formed The Fillies Club in order to support the Kentucky Derby Festival committee. They’ve been galloping ever since.
When the fledgling Fillies Club was formed sixty years ago, their three-part mission was clearly defined. The seventeen intrepid women, lead by Francis Askew Davis, pledged to “work on the club’s new signature event, the Fillies Derby Ball; further the fame of the Commonwealth of Kentucky; and place a two-dollar bet on any filly entered in the Kentucky Derby.”
Six decades later, their duties—and membership—have expanded exponentially.
The Fillies now number 250 women who, in addition to the fabled Fillies Derby Ball and the selection of the Royal Court, have added float-building, tea party planning and a fabulous fashion show to their growing list of all-volunteer contributions.
They also manage sales of the fifty-dollar Golden Ticket raffle that benefits the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation. (This year, the prize package is valued at over $3,500 and includes two tickets to many events including the Kentucky Oaks, The Fillies Derby Ball, and a hot air balloon ride during the U.S. Bank Great BalloonFest. The winner will be drawn at the Macy’s Derby Festival Spring Fashion Show in March of which TOPS is media sponsor.)
Here, in honor of this significant milestone, a look back at some turning points in their illustrious history.
1959: The Fillies select a gold horseshoe pin as the club’s symbol.
1971: The Fillies incorporate as a nonprofit organization.
1982: Fillies allow colleges, universities and accredited professional schools in Kentucky or the Louisville metro area to nominate students as princesses.
1984: Fillies Flavours cookbook is published.
1986: The Fillies take on the building of their float in the Pegasus Parade, on which the Queen and her Court ride.
1991: Fillies pin changes from a golden horseshoe to their historic crest.
1998: Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation founded.
1999: Princess nominations opened up to any Kentucky or Louisville area women who are full-time college, university or accredited professional school students.
2002: All proceeds from the Fillies Derby Ball earmarked for KDF foundation.
2008: The Fillies Children’s Tea debuts.
20??: The Fillies Fashion Show debuts.
IF YOU GO
TOPS is thrilled to be the media sponsor of these tradition-steeped Fillies events:
The Fillies Derby Ball which includes the crowning of the Derby Queen, and this year includes an historic exhibit, takes place on Saturday, April 14. Tickets are $200; tables of ten are $2,700.
The Children’s Tea with the current and former Derby queens and princesses takes place on Sunday, April 29, 1 to 4 at The Crowne Plaza.
For more info, go to acwfillies.wildapricot.org.