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With fans back, business slowly picks up for groups around Churchill Downs

VFW Post 6182 said it has already made more so far this week than it did in 2020.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With fans headed back to the track for Derby week, people around Churchill Downs are slowly starting to see some of its usual Derby week traffic picking back up.

"Anything's better than it was last year, so we'll take anything that pulls in here," VFW Post 6182 Quartermaster Melvin Reed said.

VFW Post 6182, located across the street from Churchill Downs, is usually at its busiest during the week of the Kentucky Derby, with volunteers parking cars and selling food and beverages to fans both before and after their time at the track. Reed said it is the post's biggest fundraiser each year.

"It just about pays our utilities for the whole year if we fill the parking lot up, and the people come in spend money at the bar and all that," he said. "So it's a big deal."

Last September, Reed and the VFW post still put on its fundraiser despite the absence of fans at Churchill Downs, instead serving neighbors and some of the people working at the track during Derby week.

"This year, with the coronavirus and no fans, it's going to be rough," Reed said last September in an interview with WHAS11.

Reed said the VFW post actually lost money last year because of the absence of fans, and while things have been a bit slower during the first half of the week, it is still better than last year.

"Not seeing anybody over at Churchill Downs, hardly anybody on Derby day, it was sad," volunteer Erica Stastny said. "We've already sold more this year, made more money this year than we did all of last year."

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