Kentucky Derby Festival Great Steamboat Race

The Great Steamboat Race
 ( CC BY-ND 2.0) by  LuAnn Snawder Photography

The Great Steamboat Race is an annual event that occurs on the Wednesday before the Kentucky Derby. It is a race down the Ohio River between the Belle of Louisville and the Belle of Cincinnati and is part of the Kentucky Derby Festival (an annual festival held in Louisville during the two weeks preceding the day of the Kentucky Derby). The racing takes place between Louisville and Jeffersonville, Indiana. Prior to 2009, the Belle of Louisville raced the Delta Queen in the Great Steamboat Race, but new federal regulations forced the Delta Queen to dock permanently at the end of 2008.

It is now being kept as a hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Great Steamboat Race Course

The start and finish line for the Great Steamboat Race are the Second Street Bridge. The steamboats race from the Second Street Bridge to Six Mile Island, then turn around and race back to the Second Street Bridge. The total distance of the race is 14 miles, and the race generally lasts approximately two hours.

Where to Watch the Great Steamboat Race

Fans of the Great Steamboat Race can watch the boats pass at any riverside location northwest of River Road in Louisville or southeast of Utica Pike in Jeffersonville. However, the Belvedere, Waterfront Park, the Louisville Water Tower, and Jeffersonville's West Riverside Drive are some of the most popular Great Steamboat Race viewing areas. Plus, if you really want a slice of the action, visitors can watch the event from one of the competing boats.

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