Local hats make big statement at Derby

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The big event that precedes the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks, is just one day away. With these two big events, there is one thing you are sure to find.

You may be used to seeing the typical lady’s Derby hats when you go to the Derby, but if you’re heading to the races this weekend you’ll want to keep an eye out for another type of hat made right here in South Central Kentucky.

They may look like regular hats, but these hats are made from wood and they’re a big hit with a lot of well-known people.

“Tom Cruise has a hat - Dick Chaney - a lot of the politicians have them,” hat maker, Chris Ramsey said.

“... Eddie Montgomery, Troy Gentry, Ernie Fletcher, Ashley Judd and Wynona. Tommy Lasorta, Kenny Chesney …” Ramsey continued.

President Bush even has a few.

“My cell phone rang and it was the White House and President Bush invited me to the White House to present him with a hat I had made for him,” Ramsey explained.

Ramsey makes “Knot-Head” hats.

“My grandfather always called me knot-head, so when I started making wood hats I though, well, that’s a good way to keep the name going,” Ramsey explained.

Any hat you can imagine - he’s probably made it.

“Baseball caps - I do a ladies sun hat,”

He even makes Derby hats.

“I’ve made a lot of hats for people who go to the Kentucky Derby,” Ramsey said. “They’ll probably be 60 to 100 of my hats there this year.”

He does warn you though - they aren’t easy to pick out.

“People say, ‘I didn’t see any of your hats there.’ You really have to look. Unless it’s a hat with a real distinctive pattern, but a cherry top-hat or walnut top-hat, it just looks like a black top-hat,” Ramsey explained.

Ramsey said just seeing people wear his wood hats, makes it all worthwhile.

“It’s quite an honor when people like that, like what you do and want to show off your work to others,” Ramsey said.

It takes Ramsey 40 hours to make his wooden hats. He also makes wooden bowls and mirrors and an interesting fact: he rarely buys his wood. The hats are usually made from wood he finds after storms or wood slated to go to the landfill.

As for Derby, just a few years ago, he said former Governor Paul Patton was even wearing one of his hats.

To check out more on Knot-Head hats visit www.knot-head.com.

To read more on Derby hats click here to see the Courier Journal's feature, and to just learn more about the Kentucky Derby in general visit www.kentuckyderby.com.