By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Derby Days full of fun, visiitng

Yamhill Derby Days, July 15-16 this year, features a parade, a road run, frog jumping, music, food and, of course, kids’ derby car racing.

But the best thing about the annual festival is that it brings people together, said Jim Philips, longtime member of the Yamhill Community Club, which organizes Derby Days.

“You get to the park and see everyone, and what you want to do is visit, visit, visit,” said Philips, who has been co-chairing the festival with Bob Landauer for many years.

Dozens of Yamhill residents spent six months planning the event, he said. Then they enjoy themselves on Friday evening and Saturday at the events in Beulah Park and other parts of town.

Each resident, returning former resident and visitor has a favorite part of Derby Days. Some love the road run, which kicks off Saturday’s activities. Others enjoy seeing floats, vehicles and marchers in the parade. Many enjoy the bingo games, or the tricycle races or the tasty food.

And many families can’t wait to watch their kids race down the Derby Ramp in homemade or kit cars. For some, this year’s racers will be the latest generation to take part in the tradition.

Philips’ loves all of the Derby Days’ events. But two stand out: the flag raising at noon in the center of the park, which features scout troops and the singing of the National Anthem; and the frog jumping contest.

“The wife and I do the frog jump,’ he said with relish.

He said one year before the pandemic shut things down, 62 adults and children brought frogs to compete at Derby Days. This year, his 6- and 9-year-old grandkids also will participate, too.

Many residents keep their sources for frogs secret, claiming that they know just the spot to find the best jumpers, Philips said.

“Different ponds are famous for frogs,” he said, adding that his own pond is a pretty good source.

The 2022 edition of Yamhill Derby Days will start Friday evening in Beulah Park. Yamhill Bar & Grill will host a beer garden, and Yamhill Fire District will offer dinner and a movie, with the show starting at dusk. Bingo will run from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

Saturday’s schedule starts with a run and walk at 8 a.m. from downtown Yamhill.

The parade will follow at 10 a.m., moving from the high school south on Maple Street (Highway 47). Entries will gather at 9 a.m.

Grand marshals for the parade will be Yamhill police officers and firefighters, in keeping with the 2022 Derby Days theme, Honoring Our First Responders.

Celebrants will move to Beulah Park for the rest of Saturday’s events.

Craft and food booths will open at 11 a.m. About 17 food venders will offer everything from pie to elephant ears to savory dishes. The beer garden will open at noon.

A flag raising ceremony will take place at noon at the flagpole in the center of the park.

Soap box derby races, the festival’s signature event, will start at 12:30 p.m. Children 8 to 11 will race their homemade or kit cars down the park’s steep ramp. Usually 15 to 25 cars take part, Philips said.

A live auction is scheduled at 2 p.m. Like other aspects of Derby Days, the auction benefits the park. This year’s proceeds will go toward replacing play equipment.

The popular frog jumping contest will start at 3 p.m. Both children and adults can participate. They need to bring their own frogs.

After the competition, Philips said, participants are welcome to let their frogs go in his pond or other ponds in the Yamhill area.

Tricycle races for kids and adults will start at 4:30 p.m. Trikes will be provided.

Saturday will conclude with music for listening and dancing by the band Surefire. Music will start at 7 p.m.

On Sunday, many Yamhill residents will return to Beulah Park for another of Philips’ favorite parts of Derby Days: cleaning up. He said it’s great to see the community come together, first for fun, then to tidy up, which is something that benefits everyone.

“Derby Days is a cool thing we all like,” he said.

For more information, go to the Yamhill Derby Days page on Facebook.

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