RHS

Derby Days

derby parade

2001 Derby Days Parade

Derby Days is a summer Redmond tradition that began as a bicycle race around Lake Sammamish in 1939. It was held as a fundraiser for downtown holiday decorations and school athletic equipment. The outgrowth of a small town's community spirit, the Derby now hosts the nation's longest running bicycle race. These days, the bicycle race is held in downtown Redmond. Except for four years (1942 to 1945) during World War II, the race has been held each year.  Today, Derby Days also includes a Parade in downtown Redmond as well as outdoor concerts, kid’s activities, carnival rides and fireworks. It is generally held the second weekend in July.

 

Below you will find a listing of articles and documentation about the history of Derby Days:

Redmond Reporter Story about the Derby

Redmond's Derby Days events part of festival since inception

By This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Redmond Reporter Reporter
July 11, 2013 · 3:52 PM

 

This weekend marks the 73rd anniversary of the City of Redmond’s Derby Days summer festival.

 

With two parades, live music and entertainment, food vendors, a criterium bike race and more, there is something for everyone.

 

But before the annual event grew to its current size with all the different activities, Derby Days was a fundraiser to buy holiday decorations for the city and athletic equipment for the local school.

 

While many activities have been added throughout the years, Redmond Historical Society office manager Monica Park said a few have been part of the festival since the beginning.

 

The first is the Criterium, which is sponsored by Swedish Medical Center in Redmond this year. A Derby Days staple, the Criterium has been part of the festival since its inception in 1939 and is the city’s oldest event and the country’s longest-running bicycle race.

 

Park said the race route was around Lake Sammamish before it moved to downtown Redmond.

 

This year’s Criterium begins at 1:15 p.m. and the last race will be at 7 p.m.

 

The Kids Parade has also been part of Derby Days since the beginning.

 

“The parade was a huge, big part of the community,” Park said.

 

She said the parade eventually split into two, one with kids and one with adults. As businesses and civic groups would sponsor floats, Park said the parades were a way for people to show their civic pride.

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This year’s Kids Parade will begin 10 a.m. at a new location: the Old Redmond Post Office on Northeast 85th Street in downtown.

 

Park added that the parade is her favorite part of Derby Days.

 

“I always liked the parade,” she said. “It’s just a lot of fun watching the parade.”

 

Lisa Rhodes, City of Redmond events and marketing administrator, is also excited for this year’s Kids Parade.

 

“I’m really looking forward to having Ben Franklin (Crafts and Frames) involved in the event in a larger way this year as our new Kids Parade sponsor,” she said.

 

Park said in its early years, Derby Days — which has been held every year since the beginning except during World War II from 1942-45 — was an Eastside-wide event because “this area was pretty much isolated.” When State Route 520 and the bridge were built, the area’s population began to grow and it became easier to get to Seattle. As a result, Eastside towns grew and began to hold their own summer festivals, there was more for people to do and Derby Days became more Redmond centric.

 

While activities such as the Criterium and Kids Parade have been part of Derby Days since the beginning and others have been added to the schedule throughout the years, there have also been some things that have been discontinued since those early days.

 

“In the early days, they used to auction off a car,” Park said, adding that this practice was stopped in the 1970s due to insurance purposes.

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Another early Derby Days tradition was the Derby Queen. Derby queens were high-school age and would receive scholarships. Park said runner-ups would become Derby princesses and elementary school-aged contestants were crowned junior princesses.

 

“Crowning the Derby Queen and the parade were the highlights,” she said, adding that the last queen was crowned in the 1990s.

 

Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.

Derby Days 70th Anniversary

1949 parade entry

Redmond Derby Days celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2010! It’s a summer tradition that came to life at the end of the Depression. Derby Days began as a drive to raise money for downtown holiday decorations and school athletic equipment. The outgrowth of a small town's community spirit, the Derby now hosts the nation's longest running bicycle race. Except for four years (1942 to 1945) during World War II, the race has been held each year. It includes activities for young and old.

The 2010 included:

  • Friday Night Live: Free Concert
  • REI Friday Night Poker Ride
  • IMPACT eco-fair
  • NEW!!! Derby Days Dash 5k Race/Walk
  • Kids & Grand Parade
  • Microsoft Entertainment Mainstage
  • Bicycle Criterium
  • Field of Fun... Free fun kids activities
  • Great Food, Beer & Wine Gardens
  • Funtastic Carnival
  • Fireworks Finale

The first bicycle race around Lake Sammamish started way back in 1939. These days, the bicycle race is held in downtown Redmond. This was the 70th annual Derby Days Parade, and once again Redmond Historical Society was in the parade. We're always looking for people to join us, either in the school bus or fire truck, or carrying our banner.

Read More About History of Derby Days

Derby Days 69th Anniversary

Derby Days Parade

Saturday July 11 2009

 

Photo Slide Show / Tip: Click to enlarge

Derby Days Remembered by Early Queens

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2000-05-26
by Herbert Atienza
Journal Reporter

 

REDMOND -- Betty Buckley Anderson and Kay Nichols Brule may be the closest there is to royalty in Redmond.

 

In the waning days of the Depression and on the eve of World War II, supporters of the two women sold the most tickets, allowing them to best a field of five contestants each to be crowned Redmond Derby Days Queen.

 

Anderson was the first ever queen of Redmond's signature summer festival, winning the pageant in 1940. Brule was to carry out the feat in 1942. There was no pageant held in 1941 and there were no new pageants until 1946, after the war was over.

 

This year, the two friends and lifelong Redmond residents will relive the pomp and pageantry of those memorable days after being named recently by event organizers as grand marshals at the 60th annual Derby Days Grand Parade.

 

``It's an honor to be asked,'' said Anderson, who has since raised four children with her late husband, Leslie, and is now grandmother to four.

 

``My daughter is very proud that I'm a grand marshal this year,'' said Brule, who raised a child, Patricia, with her late husband, John. She is now grandmother to two and a great grandmother.

 

Recently, the two women-- now in their 70s-- sat around Anderson's kitchen table to reminisce about events over the past six decades.

 

At that time, Redmond was nowhere near the high-tech city of more than 42,000 people it is today.

 

``It's grown up a lot,'' said Brule, adding that she was raised a farm girl in her parents' dairy farm off Union Hill Road. ``We were just plain people back then ... Redmond was your regular small, conservative town.''

 

``Everybody knew everybody back then,'' Anderson recalled. She said that at that time, Main Street was the only bonafide street in town and nearby Education Hill was known as ``Poverty Hill'' because of the rustic living conditions of the people there.

 

``I was a city girl because I walked to school,'' she said.

 

``Kay was a country girl because if you took the bus to school, then you're considered a country person.''

 

Remembering the details of being named the queen of the city is now a little tricky, but both women hold fond memories of their reign from six decades ago.

 

Anderson was a 17-year-old senior at Redmond School when she was sponsored by the Junior Nokomis Club, a local service group, to compete in the pageant.

 

Back then the Derby Days Queen was chosen by the townsfolk. They purchased $1 tickets each and wrote down the name of the girl they wanted to get the crown.

 

The winner held court at a makeshift stage that was set up near the Douglas Drug Store, which is now a gas station.

 

``I didn't do a thing,'' Anderson said. She said she won thanks to the ticket-selling zeal of her parents, Jack and Mary Buckley, and members of the civic group.

 

``All I can remember of the event is that Mayor Bill Brown put my crown on backward,'' she said.

 

Brule was 16 when nominated by math teacher Arthur Sorweide, who saw in her everything that embodied the Derby Queen.

 

``I was very perky and had an outgoing personality,'' she said. She, too, was crowned by Mayor Brown -- correctly, this time around.

 

A big event back then involved as many residents as possible joining in a caravan of cars that paraded the Derby Queen -- complete with flashing lights from escorting patrol cars -- from Redmond to the stadium on Rainier Avenue where they watched a Seattle Rainiers game.

 

``The whole town just turned out,'' Brule said.

1968 Derby Day Queen's Mother Held 1949 Title

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Like mother like daughter, Debbie Janus was crowned new queen of the Redmond Bike Derby Saturday, a title her mother held in 1949. Debbie, who will be a senior at Redmond High School this year, is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Dan Janus. Her mother was Diantha Reese at the time she won the queen's title.

 

"Actually the derby hasn't changed much except that the winning girl now has a whole year to reign as queen, " Mrs. Janus said. "When I was queen it was just for the day of the derby. Debbie acutally will reign over next year's derby since the queen is chosen at the end of the celebration."

 

"Debbie was the youngest of the four queen candidates. Sponsored by the Redmond Lions Club, she and her sponsors sold the most tickets for a new car to win the title.

 

Debbie has lived in Redmond all of her life. She has served on the Girls' Club cabinet and played on the Redmond High School girls' tennis team. In addition, she swims and water skis. She has held down a summer job at Douglass Drug Store.

 

Debbie's ambition is to become a lawyer. Her interests run to government and politics and she plans on attending a model United Nations meeting this summer.

 

[Photo and Article above excerpted from East Side Journal August 14, 1968]

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