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I lay in bed on the eve of Derby Day listening, sometimes getting up to watch the storms roll across Williamstown. Having spent a great deal of time and effort in helping many others prepare the local Derby Day Festival, I was haunted by the four past years of much less than perfect weather.
I had already responded to a disgruntled Derby Idol contestant who emailed me.
They wrote, “I had not a problem making it any other year I will let it be known that this year was fixed as well as former years!!!! This audition was a conflict of my interest due to me and Diana Kozar, (one of three judges for this year), a former winner of Derby Idol!!! I will never try out for this again!!! It’s fixed like every thing in a small town. The judges should be picked out of town but then people that can’t sing wouldn’t win and !!! would they!!! What a joke!!!”
I have invited the writer to write a letter to the editor, be on my radio show and join the Derby Day Committee for next year or the Marigold Day Committee for later this year. Otherwise, I may be the same person picking the judges again next time. I have no problem with stepping this old body aside for someone willing to work for our community.
As I arrived at festival central on Saturday morning, May 5, my heart was heavy and my spirit almost shattered under falling rain. I knew that Grant Countians were fickle about the weather when it came to attending events. I also knew vendors often didn’t show.
“Please Lord,” I said. “I’m not a good Episcopalian but from one to another…we need this event to be dry.”
And the rain stopped. And the vendors constructed their abodes. And the people came out, first under a cloudy canopy then under the bright sun.
The talent show people began arriving with their hearts set on performing. Derby Idol and Jr. Idol finalists could be seen dressed and warming up for their performance. Vintage cars rolled into town, cookers began cooking, dancers were preparing and blow up things were blown up while pirate ships began rocking and cow milking made its first appearance at Derby Day.
As everything began rocketing to a crescendo, I disappeared to the gazebo to make final adjustments for our first ever Derby Day weddings.
I had about 10 telephone conversations with the mother of one bride as my Derby Wedding plans fell into place with the help of Marlene McComas.
Having heard how judge Darrell Link had married 1,000 couples at the courthouse, I thought that maybe I could coordinate some future courthouse marriage plans into a Derby Day event. We would take a couple that was going to get married and for a small fee, we would change the ceremony into a wedding to be remembered.
Anyone who witnessed the marriage ceremonies of Jennifer and Jarrett, and Michelle and Dominick should remember it for the rest of their life.
The gazebo was decorated, the brides had beautiful dresses, veils, flowers, and the crowd was misty eyed. There was even a 50-year anniversary renewal of wedding vows.
“I did good,” I kept telling myself. “I did good.”
Mayor Rick Skinner walked up to me, put his hand on my back, and I thought I heard him say, “You did good.” I think he actually said, “Your idea wasn’t as crazy as I thought.”
Then as he walked away he mumbled an almost inaudible sound that sounded like, “You did good.”
After the weddings, I checked in with the driving force behind this years Derby Day, Storme Vanover of the Country Heart Store. She kept me in the game and on the committee when my energy waned.
At the car show, I hosted two of our versions of Deal or No Deal. The total payout could have been $1,000 but John Renaker, of Dry Ridge, misplayed for a $2 payout. In the second game, Jackie Coffey, of Hamilton, Ohio, panicked early and accepted a deal of $105. When she revealed the content of the horse she had chosen, she realized she had given up a $400 payday.
“With the way my day has gone,” I said to my wife, “I should have made a Derby bet on “I’ll Have Another”…and by the way, I think I did good today.”
“That’ll do pig,” she said, responding with the final words of the movie Babe.
(Ken Stone is publisher of the Grant County News. He can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 859-824-3343.)