Thousands of people plan to an engage in an odd and deranged annual ritual this weekend in which they will get blindingly drunk, wear absurd hats and then loudly yell as little people wearing brightly-colored outfits ride around on horses, whipping the horses as they go. Perhaps strangest of all, the gathering will occur in Kentucky.
"It's as crazy as it sounds," says Debbie McClain, who lives near ground zero of the event, held at a place called Churchill Downs, in Louisville. Maybe craziest of all, a lot of them spend a fortune on it. They put the thing on TV, too, and pretend that it means something important — as though they're not just all batshit insane. As though it's not just a bunch of drunk, mentally ill people screaming at midgets riding around on animals. I don't know if it's ever been officially categorized as a cult, but it definitely seems like one to me. Their building even has steeple things on it like a church. Nutjobs."
The strange gathering dates all the way back to 1875. Yet while modernity and societal progress has driven most American freak shows out of business, the "Kentucky Derby" — as the attendees call it — somehow continues on into the 21st Century.
"Those psychopaths even sacrifice the animals," said another nearby resident. "It's true. If one gets hurt, they blow its brains out. They don't even deny it. I don't know how the whole thing hasn't been shut down. These people are killing animals after riding around on them for their own pleasure. In 2013. I guess if you engage in this level of debauchery, but do it tucked away in a state like Kentucky, the authorities forget about you. It's my only theory."
Similar to the cult of Scientology, the Kentucky Derby has roped in celebrities through the years, with everyone from Tom Brady and Tyrese Gibson to Ashley Judd and politicians spotted in attendance.
"I'd cite it as an example of the decline of America," said one of the little people forced to ride in the race as his only means of employment. "But this thing has been around for more than a century. What a depraved culture this is. It's the kind of thing you expect from some 'savage' tribe in a Third World jungle, not here. It's despicable."