A visit to the very rowdy RV Row at the Kentucky Derby

 A visit to the very rowdy RV Row at the Kentucky Derby

If you like peace and quiet and lots of elbow room where you camp, you will not want to be on RV Row at the Kentucky Derby.

But if a non-stop party is what you're looking for, than the private parking lot right next to Churchill Downs is where you'll want to be Kentucky Derby week.

The parking lot is owned by Fred Stair and he rents RV spaces out for the Thursday-Sunday Derby weekend as the Captain's Derby Parking, even providing water, a dump station and limited electricity. Cost is $650 for the the long weekend for units up to 28-feet long, $750 for bigger RVs with extra charges for slide outs and awnings. Fred parks them tight together, so tight, you may have to walk sideways if you are cutting between units.

rvrowYou can see in the accompanying video what it's like.

Jennifer and I were on assignment for Verizon Wireless, covering the Derby itself and we kept hearing people talking about free beer and the party going in the parking lot adjacent to Churchill Grounds. When we heard it was called RV Row, we had to check it out.

We met a guy from Chicago who was celebrating his wife's 50th anniversary on RV Row. He brought his own coach and rented four trailers. In all, he had 23 guests on RV Row.

We met the Milwaukee guys who ran the Home Stretch Bar, a fixture on RV Row for more than 40 years. “Our Dad's started this a generation ago,” said Joel Papp, one of the organizers. They set up a bar and serve up  free drinks pretty much all day and all night from in front of their RV, from the Thursday before the Derby right on till when the RVs break camp and head home on Sunday.rvrow2

We shot a bunch of pictures and did the video and said goodbye. Our Roadtrek was parked across town, 12 miles away, in a very quiet hotel parking lot.

RV Row was a fun place to visit. I just wouldn't want to live there.



Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.

Join the RV Lifestyle community!

Subscribe to the newsletter and get a free Packing List for your next trip + free perks, discounts, and exclusive RV travel tips!