Barnes dreams to be queen



Bailey Vandiver

UK Human Health Sciences sophomore Kailee Barnes was chosen as one of five 2017 Derby Festival Royal Princesses.

Barnes was one of 130 women who applied. She competed in the final judging round with 24 finalists and was announced as a princess on Jan. 7.

As ambassadors for the Derby Festival, which is a month-long celebration of the Kentucky Derby, the princesses will attend nearly 70 events during a two-week period. They were judged by three out of state judges based on criteria, such as intelligence, personality and campus involvement.

Barnes said she became interested in the program because of a fellow UK student, Adrianne Poole, who was a 2016 princess.

“I felt like I would really enjoy it and it would be a good fit for me,” Barnes said. “And the rest is history.”

Barnes said she enjoyed learning more about the Kentucky Derby Festival because as a Louisville native, she has always loved the festival.

“I did some research and discovered the history behind these events which just deepened my love for Kentucky, as well as my appreciation for the festival,” Barnes said.

Barnes is one of three princesses from Louisville, but she is the only princess who is a UK student. She said she is proud to represent both Louisville and UK.

“I am so excited to show all of those I come into contact with how UK has shaped me into the woman I am today, both intellectually and professionally,” Barnes said.

Barnes said she is most excited to interact with kids as she attends the different events. A few girls have already wanted to take pictures with her and her peers as “real-life princesses,” she said.

The Derby Festival Queen will be crowned April 8 by a spin-of-the-wheel at the Fillies Derby Ball.

“If I get lucky enough to serve as the queen, I would be so humbled because honestly, any of the women who are serving on the KDF Royal Court would make a fantastic queen,” Barnes said.