Mike Berry, longest-serving president and CEO in KDF history, will step down after this year

Mike Berry, longest-serving president and CEO in KDF history, will step down after this year
Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO Mike Berry announced on Thursday that this year's Festival will be his last in those roles.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO Mike Berry announced on Thursday that this year’s Festival will be his last in those roles.

Berry, a Louisville native, first joined the Festival in 1986 and has been its CEO for the last 22 years. He is the longest serving president and CEO of the city’s most popular festival.

“Growing up in Louisville, the Kentucky Derby Festival has always been a part of my life,” Berry said in a statement. “That’s not going to change. I’ll always be one of the Festival’s biggest fans, and we’re planning one of our best Festivals yet for 2019.”

Berry said he’ll take some time to enjoy his family, get “reacquainted with the spring season next year” and then consider his next move.

“Mike’s passion for the Festival is unmatched and he will leave very big shoes to fill,” 2019 Festival Chair Marita Willis said in a statement. “We are indebted to him for all his years of service not just to the Festival, but also to the community. We hope everyone will join us in celebrating the upcoming Festival with him.”

Berry is a familiar face to anyone who has watched the KDF Pegasus Parade on WAVE 3 News over the years, as he makes appearances on the broadcast each spring.

This year’s Kentucky Derby Festival kicks off on April 13 with the annual Thunder Over Louisville celebration, which also will be broadcast live on WAVE 3 News.

Live, all-screen coverage of the air show and fireworks begins at 2:30 p.m. that day.

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