Dean Wilkinson, Historic Homes Foundation Derby Breakfast co-chair.

| April 20, 2011
Dean Wilkinson

photo by Jacob Zimmer

With Derby season in full bloom, the question on most people’s mind is: “What are you doing for Derby?”

I sat down with Dean Wilkinson, who is co-chairing the Historic Homes Foundation Derby Breakfast with Bittners President Douglas Riddle. He tells us exactly where we all should be on Derby morning.

This year’s 33rd annual Derby Breakfast will be the perfect toast to your morning. Whether it’s a pre-party before heading to the track or your morning destination, one thing is certain: If you aren’t there, you’ll be green with envy.

What can guests expect from this year’s Derby Breakfast?

For many, the Derby Breakfast has become a tradition on Derby morning. This year will mark the 33rd annual breakfast, and we have worked very hard not only to reach out to our loyal attendees but also a younger generation so they can begin to build a tradition of attending and supporting these beautiful historic homes. Guests – new or old – can be excited about the gourmet breakfast Wiltshire Pantry will prepare.

Douglas Riddle and Bittners have also created an amazing decor theme that will really transform the grounds, and I think people will really be blown away.

Riddle had this to say: “Bittners is thrilled to participate with Historic Homes and Garden & Gun for the second year. Nothing says Southern charm more than spending Derby morning at Farmington.”

This year’s event will be presented by Garden & Gun magazine along with honorary chairpersons, Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson. We are so thrilled to have the innovative minds behind 21c teaming up with the Historic Homes Foundation on this year’s event and can assure you this will be one to remember.

Anything particularly new at this year’s event?

Traditionally at events, guests arrive on a red carpet. This year our marketing team (Frances Houston with Vibrant Nation, Claire Seiffert with Papillon Collective. and Jordan Underhill with Westport Village) have worked with Anabel’s Oriental Rugs to deliver something new and different for a garden setting – a green carpet.

Another exciting addition to the breakfast is the presence of a raffle. For $25 guests will be able to enter for a chance to win a Town & Country weekend getaway for two courtesy of our honorary chairpersons.

The prize is definitely worth the entry fee and will include: a private art tour of 21c Museum, dinner for two at Proof on Main, overnight stay in the rooftop apartment at 21c Museum Hotel, two Urban Bourbon Trail passports, private tour of Woodland Farm, dinner for two at the Westport General Store, overnight stay in the Chapel at Woodland Farm, breakfast basket including a set of keepsake Mint Julep cups and roundtrip transportation from 21c to Woodland Farm in the 21c “Pip Mobile” limousine.

How has the experience of co-chairing been for you?

I have been involved with Historic Homes Foundation, the nonprofit that overseas Farmington, Whitehall and the Thomas Edison House, since last August. When I was asked to co-chair the event, I knew I was up for the challenge and was looking forward to working with some of Louisville’s most talented.

This is the first event I’ve co-chaired and am thrilled to have been asked to do so with Bittners President Douglas Riddle.  Everyone at Bittners has been wonderful to work with.

What is the overall décor theme for this year’s event?

We have changed the tent design from last year to make the breakfast flow well. Bittners will have an extravagant centerpiece in the tent. There will be a lounge for friends to sit and catch up as they look at some of Bittners’ beautiful show pieces.

Bittners’ Amy Cimba, who is the event’s design chair, has this say: “The décor of the breakfast this year will all be centered around an urban chic tack room that will provide a luxurious atmosphere to entertain derby guests prior to the big excitement at Churchill Downs.”

How much planning goes into making the Derby Breakfast better than previous years?

Planning and brainstorming begins almost immediately after the previous year’s event. This year we have had a terrific committee who have been instrumental in planning for this beautiful morning. With a younger group of people making up our marketing committee, we now have a following on Facebook and Twitter, which has helped in attracting a younger demographic.

From a design perspective, Bittners really fed off of last year’s and wanted to make this year’s event flow better. They’ve redesigned the tent to handle high traffic and created a lounge area complete with chandelier. It really is remarkable.

Longwood Antiques has done wonders with the flooring and even created walls made from old stable doors. Everyone has done an amazing job tying in the tradition of Derby and Kentucky to this years’ event.

Why did you chose to become involved with HHF?

I’ve always had an appreciation for historic architecture and homes. My father, Bill Wilkinson, has been a residential building contractor in Louisville for over 25 years. I grew up in and out of some of Louisville’s finest homes, always learning something new about historic architecture. I have a deep appreciation for these homes and have enjoyed being apart of an organization that takes the time to care for these historic landmarks.

I met Guthrie Zaring, HHF’s president, last year and immediately was excited to join the team and help keep these beautiful homes around for our city and guests to enjoy.

Growing up in Louisville it is easy to take for granted these Historic Homes and grounds that are open to the public so being a part of this organization I got to experience first-hand the hard work that goes into raising the necessary funds for upkeep. It makes you value the rich heritage we’ve been lucky enough to grow up in and around.

More information regarding the Derby Breakfast and all Historic Homes Foundation events can be found online at

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Category: The Spotlight

About the Author (Author Profile)

Lauren DePaso
Voice-Tribune Staff Writer Lauren DePaso enjoys being a tourist in her own city, exploring the nightlife and cheering on the Cards. A Louisville native, she currently resides in St. Matthews.

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