First Friday in May was dedicated to Marietta's own version of the Kentucky Derby. Instead of horses racing to win it all, local community leaders competed in character to raise money for the nonprofit of their choice. Local business Marietta Dental Works, owned by Dr. John Frye, was the title sponsor for this event.
"If you have seen anything on the Marietta Dental Works Facebook Page or other advertisements, this event was aligned perfectly for us. Also, our office just turned a year old and I am still trying to get my name out there and build my business as best I can," said Frye.
Preparation for the Marietta Derby came through Main Street's First Friday Committee, chaired by Laura Pytlik, owner of Wit & Whimzy on Front Street. Over the course of several months, the plans and coordination of the Marietta Derby came together.
"We knew we wanted the theme to complement Derby weekend, and Tim Glover, a member of our committee, suggested a fun twist on the race that would raise money for charity. Local businesses were eager to participate for a good cause, and when they added the silly costumes the result was a family-friendly event," said Pytlik.
At 5 p.m. on First Friday the crowd started to gather to listen to WMOA's Laura Bays and Brett Wharff emcee the Derby. With music coming through the sound system as competitors gathered, photos were being taken and the Derby "gates" were officially open for spectators to place their donated "bids" on the competitor and/or nonprofit of their choice.
By 6 p.m., the official kickoff time of the Marietta Derby, over 200 spectators had gathered at the Armory to watch costumed competitors race.
Among the competitors were Marietta College's Putnam the Pio, Washington State Community College's Buck, Peoples Bank's Piggy Bank, the River Town Grill's Piggy Chef, The Cook's Shop's Sumo Chef, Jeremiah Coffee House's Coffee Cup, American Flags & Poles' Betsy Ross, Marietta Adventure Company's T-Rex, Marietta Brewing Company's Unicorn, Marietta Dental Works' Cowboy on a Horse, Slice of Life's Chocolate Chip Cookie, and The Original Pizza Place's Pizza Box.
"To me, this event was a success because of the business owners that took the time to participate. It was not only a fun event but it brought them together in a fun setting and let them enjoy the experience," said Tim Glover, First Friday Committee Member.
The whole race only took a half hour but the competition was steep and the crowd cheered for their favorite competitor. Ultimately, it was The Cook's Shop who walked away victoriously winning the Garland of Roses, sponsored by Wit & Whimzy, for crossing the finish line first.
A second award was given to the competitor who raised the most money for the event. This award, the Marietta Derby Cup sponsored by Amrine Awards & Apparel, was given to Peoples Bank for raising $712.90.
The total amount of donations raised by the Marietta Derby was $2,868.10 and money was distributed to local nonprofits such as the Salvation Army of Marietta, the Alzheimer's Association of WV, the RTA Festival, GoPacks, Washington County Harvest of Hope, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Hunger Solutions of the MOV, the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County, the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley, The Betsey Mills Club, Suicide Awareness Alliance of Washington County, High on Hope Ministries, and Eve Incorporated. A quarter of all money raised stayed with Marietta Main Street to support the revitalization of downtown.
"These events certainly are nice for downtown businesses to come together and advertise for themselves and each other. These are also great opportunities for people to get to know Marietta Main Street better and see all the good that they are doing and working for in the downtown area," shared Frye, event sponsor.