A few years back, a stumbling, drunk stranger asked me if I had any pizza in a bag, as we walked across the highway bridge heading toward the Derby. I laughed, and then asked her why someone would carry around pizza in a bag. Five minutes later, she tapped me on the shoulder and pointed at a guy with two pieces of pizza in a clear bag that was attached to a strap and hanging on his shoulder.
“I told you,” she said.
Semi-long story short: She knew the rule for bringing food into the Derby. Although it was a weird question to ask someone out of the blue, if you want to bring in pizza, it has to be in a transparent bag.
Technically, all food must be in a clear bag.
Here are a few ways to bring in permitted items — chairs, water, etc. — to make yourself more comfortable and save money. And there are plenty of items you might be surprised you can’t bring in — including coolers, cans, backpacks, selfie sticks and fireworks. Below is the entire list for Oaks and the Derby, according to Churchill Downs.
Permitted Items on Kentucky Derby and Oaks Days:
- Food items in clear plastic bags (maximum size 18” X 18” – no trash bags)*
- “Box” lunches in clear plastic bags or containers (maximum size 18″ X 18″ – no trash bags)
- Water and soft drinks – plastic bottles only (sealed, clear and unopened)
- Purses, but none larger than 12” in any dimension (subject to search)
- Baby/diaper bags – only if accompanied by a child (subject to search)
- Small cameras – none equipped with detachable lenses or lenses of 6” or more **
- Sunscreen (non-glass containers only)
- Small personal music systems, radios and televisions** (No boom boxes)
- Cellular phones, smartphones and tablets**
- Seat cushions smaller than 15″X15″ that do not contain metal arms and/or backs, zippers, pockets or flaps
- Strollers (ONLY if carrying a child)
- Chairs (Infield Gate ONLY)
- Blankets & tarpaulins (Infield and Paddock Gates ONLY)
* Limit of two bags per person
** Patrons could be required to turn on electronic items
Banned Items on Kentucky Derby and Oaks Days:
- Coolers (Styrofoam coolers, ice available at infield purchase points)
- Cans (any size or type), glass bottles or containers
- Pop-Up or Patron Tents – no poles or stakes of any kind
- Laptop Computers and Camcorders
- Cameras with detachable lenses, or equipped with a lens that is 6” or larger
- Selfie Sticks
- Purses larger than 12″ in any dimension
- Alcoholic beverages
- Illegal Substances
- Luggage (includes briefcases)
- Duffel bags
- Umbrellas (Umbrellas are not allowed during Derby Week: Opening Night — Derby Day)
- Weapons (including knives)
- Fireworks, noisemakers, air horns, laser lights/pointers, mace or pepper sprays
- Drones and remote controlled aircraft
- Personal transportation devices (e.g. Hoverboards)
- Animals (with the exception of service animals for guests with disabilities)
- Any items deemed dangerous and/or inappropriate