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For Elizabethtown native Aimee Boyd, a festive atmosphere is part of her job.
As vice president of communications for the Kentucky Derby Festival, Boyd helps coordinate and promote events leading up to what has been called the most exciting two minutes in sports.
“A few folks might think we only work a few weeks out of the year, but we work year round,” she said.
Shortly after the Kentucky Derby Festival ends one year, teams begin meeting to plan and coordinate events for the next year, Boyd said. They also evaluate how that year’s the festival went.
“We are probably our harshest critics,” she said.
As is the case each year, Thunder Over Louisville kicked off the Kentucky Derby Festival. The massive fireworks display was held Saturday and festival events run through May 2 with the 140th Run for the Roses.
Riverside concerts, hot air balloon events, the Great Steamboat Race and the Pegasus Parade are among the 70 or so events offered this year during the festival. Twenty-three full-time workers on several teams strive to make the festival happen, Boyd said.
But volunteers play a big role, she said, and the festival employees direct a network of about 4,000.
“About 2,000 of those are just for Thunder alone,” she said.
This year marks the 11th Kentucky Derby Festival on which Boyd has worked.
Prior to her role with the festival, Boyd worked for six years as a producer for a Louisville television station. She recalled doing broadcasts from festival events and how much she enjoyed them.
“Especially working with Thunder,” she said. “That was the one thing that intrigued me.”
A 1994 Central Hardin High School graduate, Boyd maintains an Elizabethtown residence and commutes to work. She originally decided to find work in Louisville because her father works there, and she thought they might commute together. When she got her job as a television producer, it was in a building right next to where her father works.
Their work schedules, however, made it impractical to commute together.
When Boyd started working for the Kentucky Derby Festival, it was as communications manager. The role was a bit of a change for the former television producer who was used to working behind the camera and suddenly found herself in front of the camera promoting events.
Even at family gatherings, Boyd said, she was the one behind the camera.
During festival season, her day begins about 5 a.m., usually either appearing on a TV show to promote events or coordinating the interview of someone else on the team. When she returns to her office, she prepares and sends out press releases before going out to an event, later returning to the office.
“It’s a lot of early mornings and late nights,” Boyd said.
As the festival gets into full swing, she said, festival organizers do, too.
“We’re all living on adrenaline,” she said.
Festival staff also use social media, such as Facebook, to promote events, more for interaction with the public and showing behind-the-scenes work than trying to sell anything, Boyd said.
“It’s a great communication tool, so we take advantage of it,” she said.
Michael E. Berry, Kentucky Derby Festival president and CEO, has worked with Boyd for more than 10 years and called her “an essential part of the KDF team” and a “consummate professional.”
Berry commended Boyd’s interaction with media, businesses and community leaders.
“She always represents the festival well, and her opinions as to our positions and statements are well thought-out,” he said.
Because of that, Berry said, he listens to her advice intently. He also calls Boyd a team player whose positive demeanor and smile can diffuse many tense discussions.
Additionally, Berry credited her with being even-tempered and calm. When she delivers “the message of the festival,” he said, she does so in an understandable, factual and concise manner.
“In this day of multiple media opportunities, a consistent voice is golden,” Berry said.
Boyd considers herself just a part of a hard-working team.
“We’re just like little Energizer bunnies: We just keep going,” she said.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at 270-505-1743 or email@example.com.
UPCOMING KENTUCKY DERBY FESTIVAL EVENTS
April 17-27:Stock Yard’s Bank $1 Million Hole-in-One Golf Contest
April 17:Horseshoe Foundation Night of the Future Stars
April 17-18:Running Wild Expo
April 19:Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/miniMarathon
April 19-27:Volleyball Classic
April 24-26:U.S. Bank Great BalloonFest
April 24-May 2:Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville; Chow Wagon
April 25:Zumba Fitness Party
April 26:NPC Derby Championships; Da’Ville Classic Drum Line Showcase; ACO Derby Hole Classic; The Slice: Spice, Style, and Soul
April 27:Mayor’s Derby Brunch on the River; Kentucky Derby Festival MiniFun Run
April 27:Stock Yard’s Bank $1 Million Hole-in-One Golf Contest Semi Finals
April 28:Don Fightmaster Golf Outing for Exceptional Children; Discovery Day; HappyTail Hour; Great Bed Races: Knights of Columbus Charity Dinner
April 29-30: AT&T Morning Line
April 29:Republic Bank Parade Preview Party; Texas Hold’Em Tournament; Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Healthy Lifestyle Showcase; Kentucky Proud WineFest; Ramble for the Roses; Stock Yards Bank $1 Million Hole-in-One Golf Contest Finals
April 30:Battle of the Bounce; Great Steamboat Race; BeerFest
May 1:Celebrity Day at the Downs; Republic Bank Kentucky Derby Festival Pegasus Parade; 100 Black Men of Louisville Derby Gala
May 3:Derby Eve Jam
For more information, visit KDF.org.
A PARADE OF FACTS ABOUT AIMEE BOYD
City of birth: Elizabethtown
Family: Husband, Jimmy Coffey, and two children
Favorite music: ’80s hair bands and country
Favorite movie: “The Notebook”
Favorite TV show: “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Nashville”
Favorite authors: Nicholas Sparks and Emily Giffin
Hobbies: Spending time with her children, horseback riding, reading and shopping.