Proudly Celebrating 90 years of philanthropic volunteerism in Central Kentucky and firmly committed to doing even more in the future, the Junior League of Lexington organization is “all about” making our thriving metropolis an even better place to live, work, and give back to this bustling, welcoming community we call home.
The Charity Horse Show
Over a century ago, in the depth of this nation’s worst depression, Mary Harriman, a visionary 19-year-old New York City debutante with a compelling social conscience, founded the first ever Junior League. Appalled by the suffering she witnessed virtually everywhere, Ms. Harriman mobilized a group of 80 other young women to join together to improve the squalid conditions in which immigrants were living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Her commitment was to parlay the success of this original outreach mission concept to encourage others across America. News of the New York area success spread quickly, encouraging other communities to follow: Boston in 1904 and Brooklyn, New York soon after.
Concurrently, a group of patriotic ladies committed to help in Central Kentucky. In the spirit of national pride, they began a quest to raise funds to support their community work programs during America’s darkest days of our national depression. Despite their valiant efforts, there was very little return on their investment of time. The group realized that what was missing was an enthusiastic catalyst; someone who would generate interest while also helping raise the badly needed funds to help alleviate hunger and homelessness here in Kentucky.
Mrs. James B. Kittrell, the innovative first President of the Junior League of Lexington, suggested a creative idea which virtually everyone else considered to be folly. Her vision: to stage a horse show in Lexington, charging an admission fee for spectators and an entry fee for each participating horse, all with the goal that the event’s proceeds be donated to help the staggering number of Central Kentucky’s poor. This idea, while admittedly fascinating, was generally received which much skepticism. The concerns of many were that with the rest of the nation mired in a deep depression, wasn’t this idea really ludicrous?
Whether out of caution or fear of failure, most of the husbands of the Junior League’s members were equally skeptical of this “outlandish” idea. They were concerned; not only was Lexington far too small a town to undertake such an event in their minds, but with a budget of only $500 seed money, chances of success were considered to be doubtful.
Mrs. Kittrell and her few cohorts were not willing to acquiesce to negativity. They were convienced that a horse show staged in Lexington would turn a profit. How? Through dollars that would be brought in from entrance fees, hoped-for sponsors and gate receipts, all to support those in need. W. Jefferson Harris, a local bloodstock agent and horseman, offered to provide advice, expertise and seed money to help ensure that this event would be given every opportunity for success.
History verifies that luck, hope, commitment and prayer all magically coalesced, and the first Junior League charity show in Lexington was staged in July of 1937. A crowd estimated to be over 5,000 was in attendance. News accounts noted that “unbelievably”, 216 horses representing 16 different states participated. The inaugural Lexington Junior League horse show made a profit of nearly $5,500 for charity. With the unanimous approval of the Lexington Junior League members, the decision was made to carry on the new tradition.
Seventy-eight years later, the Lexington Junior League Charity Horse Show is acknowledged to be the premier Saddlebred equine event in the United States, as well as being the largest outdoor show for American Saddlebreds in the world. Annually, this event is a magnet to attract over a thousand of the finest horses and riders from all over the world to compete here in our city, once more reinforcing that Lexington, Kentucky truly is the horse capital of the world!
Proudly coordinated by the Junior League of Lexington, this show holds the honor of being the first leg of the Saddlebred Triple Crown. The event has generated millions of dollars for charities in the Central Kentucky Area and will continue to do so in the future.
This year’s event at Lexington’s Red Mile will be presented beginning the evening of July 6th and will continue through July 11th. For information on tickets, sponsorships or more, please visit www.LexJrLeague.com
Nurturing Central Kentucky Non-Profits
Through volunteerism, philanthropy and historic preservation, the Junior League of Lexington is perpetuating its steadfast commitment to continue and expand the emphasis of volunteerism through community service. The organization has been instrumental in helping to fund and nurture a variety of not-for-profit agencies. Among them are The Baby Health Services, Lexington Children’s Theatre, Opportunity Workshop of Lexington, The Living Arts and Science Center, Ronald McDonald House, The Ephraim McDowell Cancer Research Foundation, Central Kentucky Riding for the Handicapped, Habitat for Humanity, God’s Pantry Food Bank and Children’s Advocacy of the Bluegrass.
Within the first three months of 2015, the Junior League of Lexington has awarded $30,000 in grants to these five deserving community agencies and organizations:
-The Bodley-Bullock House - an American landmark treasure…funds to aid the preservation of this historic treasure within our midst which exemplifies the grandeur of Lexington’s Gratz Park Historic District through renovation and ongoing maintenance
-The Children’s Advocacy Center of the Bluegrass - help to cover the cost of play equipment for children that experience trauma as a result of sexual abuse
-Girls on the Run of Central KY - dollars to provide scholarships for a mentoring program which inspires girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident via curriculum that creatively integrates running
-Kentucky Educational Television (KET) - funding to cover costs for a Super Saturday open house which will allow young children a hands-on experience with music, science and health exploration
-Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS) - help to provide welcome bags for young children with visual impairments
The Junior League of Lexington’s Annual Holly Day Market
Mark your calendars now so as not to miss the most anticipated holiday shopping opportunity of the year: the popular Junior League of Lexington Holly Day Market, presented to benefit local not-for-profit entities in our area. At this exciting event, you’ll discover magical treasures which will dazzle you and all of those special folks on your holiday giving list who deserve the best!
The Holly Day Market begins on Friday, November 13th with exciting shopping opportunities for all. If you’re looking for out-of-the-ordinary holiday gifts, they’ll be here, including fascinating collections of memorable holiday treasures and those uniquely non-traditional gifts that you will not find elsewhere. You’ll be able to shop more than 70 vendors, each offering fabulous boutique- style items unavailable in stores: hand created, exquisite jewelry, clothes for women, men and children, toys, books, holiday décor, ornaments, and more. Special events are planned and designed to inspire the holiday spirit in everyone, from Scrooges to Santas!
The $10 admission purchase facilitates the Junior League of Lexington and the many non-for profit agencies it supports. The Market will be open from Friday November 13th 11am-7pm; Saturday, November 14th 10am-5pm; Sunday, November 15th llam-5pm. Remember: the Holly Day Markets offers daily events and activities to optimize your holiday shopping experience!
Or, add some “Ho-Ho-Ho” to your holiday merrymaking celebrations at The Junior League of Lexington’s Annual Holly Day Market VIP Preview Party on Saturday, November 14th from 6-9pm. Tickets for this gala Holly Day Market VIP Party Event are $25 per person and may be purchased by calling the Lexington Junior League office at 859-252-8014. With your ticket, you will enjoy food and beverages, mingle with other guests and participate in the Junior League’s silent auction for numerous one-of-a-kind holiday gift items and more.