LEWISBURG — The Village of Lewisburg’s Derby Days festival was held Thursday, Aug. 15 through Saturday, Aug. 17, but this year saw a few changes to the annual event. Sadly, there was no queen competition, due to a lack of interest. However, there was a new Talent Contest for all ages to compete in.
There were also changes to the fireworks display on Saturday night.
The festival kicked off on Thursday, Aug. 15, with the Baby Beauty Contest and the Talent Contest.
Winners for the Talent Contest were: first place, Willie Hawkins; second place, Danielle Zimkus, and third place, Lillian Davis. There was a total of 12 acts who competed this year.
According to Talent Contest Producer Mark Madigan, the Derby Days Committee has wanted to host a talent competition for the last six years. They thought it would be a good fit for Derby Days, to bring additional attendance for Thursday night. Finally, he got the go-ahead to organize the event this year.
“We had amazing talent. We had singers, a nine-year-old girl who choreographed her own dance routine, and three people playing keyboards,” he said. “Attendance was amazing. It was one of the better crowds they had. It was very successful, attendance wise.
“Thursday is normally the slowest of the three days, but the area around the talent competition was full. It worked very well [to bring people to Derby Days]. The crowd was big and people were spending money at the vendors. We’re already making plans for next year.”
On Friday, Aug. 16, there was plenty of food and vendors. The Motorcycle Bike Nite, Tractor Pull, and Egg Drop were also held. The Black Smith Shop was open behind Ace Hardware. Flat Out also performed at the annual Street Dance.
On Saturday, Aug. 17, the day kicked off with an Auxiliary Breakfast at the Firehouse and the Derby Day Dash 5K Race. Royal Canin held its annual Pet Contest, where they had many dogs and even a miniature pony compete. The parade started at Roselawn Cemetery and wowed the crowd with many floats.
The Derby Race was held at noon. The Cruise-in was held downtown in the evening. The Street Dance was held, once again, bringing people out to dance and be merry.
Finally, the three-day festival ended with a large fireworks display, which was the other big change at this year’s Derby Days festival.
This year, the fireworks show was mainly electronic, with a few manual charges still set off. According to pyro-technician Madigan, the change increases safety, reduces “dead time” between the individual fireworks, makes the show more continuous, and gives the technicians more control of the show.
“Derby Days Fireworks started 23 years ago. The veterans from the VFW wanted to do fireworks on the 4th of July, but I told them to do it at Derby Days. They asked how much it would cost and I told them $10,000. I said, if you do a $2,000 one, it would be the only show you would ever do. If we were going to do it, we wanted to do it right,” he said. “We started the show and the first three years it was electric fired out of the back of a trailer.
“We have a lot of guys on my crew who hand-fire shows. That went on for approximately 17 years. We’ve talked over the last few years about wanting to do electric shows. We decided Derby Days, this year, a good portion of it would be electric-fired again. Part of it is still hand-fired, because some guys still want to hand-fire shells. The biggest portion — 80 percent of the show — will be electric fired.
The show was also bigger, because they raised more money during their fundraising auction.
“We have an auction to raise money for the fireworks. Two years ago, we had our best year ever and raised $14,000. This year, we raised $23,000. We were able to spend a little more money on the show this year,” Madigan said. “People are going to be shocked, when they see the show.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH