Jacob Bennett


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College Heights Herald article regarding Kentucky Derby Queen Kerri Richardson:

Kerri Richardson has been busy since she was named Kentucky Derby Queen on Friday.

The Shelbyville senior was so busy, in fact, that the night the Derby Princess became a Derby Queen, her family had to charter a flight to take her to Louisville from Ohio, where she was competing for the national title with Western's world champion forensics team.

She was so busy that she had to apply her makeup while she was on the plane.

She was so busy that she had to take that same plane back to Ohio on Saturday morning, after about four hours of sleep. She had to participate in a debate, for which she had just won the individual world title.

She was so busy, in fact, that she could not be reached for comment for this article.

Now, in addition to all that, she's going to have to find the time to participate in more than 50 Derby Festival activities.

"(Kerry will be) everywhere," said John Perkins Jr., director of support services for the festival. "(Queens) have a pretty strenuous two to three weeks."

Richardson will be on a float for the parade, and she will give out awards at several events, among other things. She will take a seat on Millionaire's Row for the Derby, where movie stars like Jack Nicholson have been known to appear.

She will be on national TV at least twice. She will be on ESPN when straws are drawn for pole position, and she will be interviewed by NBC's Willard Scott on "today" the day before the Derby.

Brenda Richardson, Kerri's mom, doesn't know exactly how Kerri feels about her upcoming schedule.

"I really haven't talked to her," she said, because her daughter didn't have time. "She knew if she were the winner, this is what she was in for. This is what she wanted."

About 80 girls showed up at a meeting late last year to try to become queen. Before you can be queen, you have to be a resident of Kentucky, a full-time student, a girl, of course, and either you or mom has to attend the meeting. Kerri's schedule did not permit her to be at the meeting.

"I went because Kerri was busy, as usual," her mom said.

After that meeting, 35 of the original 80 interviewed in December. Of those 35, Kerri was one of the five chosen to be Derby Princesses.

"She's extremely poised," Perkins said. "The Queen and Court are out meeting people, and they're on TV and radio. Kerri is comfortable in the public eye and speaks well spontaneously."

Part of that probably comes from her practice with the forensics team. She is also news director at NewsChannel 12, which comes after her time as an anchor with Shelby County High School's broadcasting program.

Retired Shelby County High broadcasting teacher Jane Martin said Kerri was an original member of the school's news team.

"I probably saw her more than her parents did," she said. "She's always been very active in everything she's done."

Despite all her qualifications, it took some magic - or at least luck - for Princess Kerri to become Queen Kerri.

The queen is chosen by spinning a wheel, so the five princesses have a 20 percent chance of selection.

"All five of the women are outstanding, so we don't want to make it competitive," Perkins said.

When the wheel was spun the first time, a judge ruled that it stopped on a line, and not a princess's number. Kerri's mom said the wheel was nowhere Kerri's number.

The second time around, Kerri was the Queen.

Though there was luck involved, Martin thinks Kerri will represent her hometown well.

"I think the Derby Festival people will enjoy meeting Kerri," she said. "She's got a bubbly, vivacious personality. She's never met a stranger."


Western Kentucky University, Beauty Contests, Beauty Queens


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