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The Thursday before the Kentucky Derby, now branded “Thurby,” has an official musical ensemble this year: the Eastern Kentucky University Marching Colonels.

“This is such a great opportunity for our students to get to play in front of tens of thousands of people and to promote EKU,” said Dr. Timothy Wiggins, assistant professor of music education. “We love the idea that Thurby is Kentucky’s day at the Downs, and EKU is Kentucky’s university. We see a lot of symmetry in that.”

The Marching Colonels are set to play “My Old Kentucky Home,” and will play between races at Thurby, coined “the day Louisville comes to the Downs,” under the twin spires at the world famous Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville on May 2, 2019.  Gates open at 11 a.m. and the music and racing begins at 1 p.m.

“The Marching Colonels and Maroon Machine are remixed and reimagined as the largest and most enthusiastic of EKU campus groups supporting the educational mission of the university through musical performance, collaboration and leadership,” Wiggins said. “We hope Thurby is a great experience for our students as we prepare them and artists across fifty degree programs for successful careers, which include life-long participation in the arts.”

For alumni and friends of EKU interested in going to Thurby to hear the Marching Colonels play, The Alumni Office has reserved a limited number of seats. To find more information about this EKU block of seats and to purchase your tickets, please visit Tickets for the event are $47.

“We are incredibly excited for Eastern Kentucky University to be a part of this growing Kentucky tradition.  We are proud to offer our alumni and friends the opportunity to support the Marching Colonels and enjoy Thurby at Chruchill Downs,” said Dan McBride, associate vice president of development and alumni engagement.

The Marching Colonels will be in the infield and have been rehearsing for weeks for the performance.

The song selections are as follows:

“My Old Kentucky Home”


“Hand Clap/Sweet Dreams”


“Up Town Funk”


“Don’t Stop Believin’”

“Feel it Still”

“Hail, Hail Eastern Maroons”

The EKU Marching Colonels would like to thank Central Bank for making this performance possible through their sponsorship of the program.