Our city's potential lies in our location, climate, and venues. We have music festivals, sure… But nothing like Chicago or Austin (and not for lack of space either). However; we do try, and we take advantage of every opportunity that is brought our way – or at least I think we do. There is one venue in particular that I believe is being severely underutilized that could potentially be a great draw for the city and the greater Jacksonville area.
Did you know there are fewer than 100 Greyhound racing tracks in America? I know first hand how fantastic these animals are, having adopted a retired racer myself when I was younger… her name was Lola, and she was quite darling… but I digress. Watching them run is mesmerizing, and even more so when it's a race! Wouldn't it be fantastic if we could utilize that space to its full potential? It has everything: food, drinks, entertainment… all amidst the wonder of the dogs, and the thrill of the gamble. We could use this allure to create an event that people would not only talk about, but plan their calendars around!
This is where I propose bringing the Derby to Jacksonville. Having an annual dog derby to bring the venue back to its former glory – while raising awareness about the dogs and the opportunities for adoption during promotional events. It has the potential to grow into a once a year city-wide party, with endless possibilities. Invoking the spirit of the Kentucky Derby, they could let people into the infields, serve up mint juleps, and give our ladies the chance dress up and wear those fantastically overgrown hats! I'd go, wouldn't you?
Think about it… Juleps and Jacksonville, Hats and Hounds – The event would sell itself! I think this would be a great way for the city, and its residents, to get back into a deeply rooted tradition that sprung up during Jacksonville's early years; but, I'm not looking to only revive it, I want to revitalize it! Greyhound racing was a happening pastime back in the day, so why not give our generation a chance to experience its wonder?! And if we would recreate the same type of atmosphere the Kentucky Derby brings (or even a fraction it) that could still be a great time. This event has the promise to remind people that we have options here in Jacksonville, and fun ones at that! It would also give us something to look forward to, beyond Florida/Georgia and TPC. We could give our city a triple crown of events that would last us through the year. TPC, the Dog Derby, and Florida/Georgia… I think this would bring more attention to the city (in a good way) while also engaging our community to participate in more local events, all the while, adding a little extra excitement to the town we call home.
So what do you think? Should we bring the Derby to Jacksonville?!