Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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July 9, 2014

Derrick Days' recovery

Corsicana — In many ways, the embezzlement of all the Derrick Days funds in 2013 created a stronger festival, although it certainly hurt at the time.

A volunteer with the festival committee embezzled about $27,000 from the fund, leaving the organization $1,000 overdrawn, a theft that was discovered just a couple of months before the festival was scheduled to take place.

In response, the community and local trusts rallied around it, pulling together grants and donations to ensure the festival came off succesfully. The 2014 festival came off strong, again, and the fund as of June 1 stood at about $34,000, according to Fran Townes, chairwoman of the Derrick Days Committee.

“We spent more, it costs a lot more to put it on these days,” Townes said. “For example, when Brad (Haynie) started this thing back about 12 years ago, he had $1,500 in the bank account to start. Which is amazing that he was able to do it. I have over $34,000, and my total expenses this year to put it on was $75,000.”

The festival paid for advertising in large cities around Texas, for security and portable toilets, for towing, and to hire performers, everything from musicians to clowns. The festival doesn’t just spend money, though, it also makes money.

The Oil Baron’s Ball, which had its second year in 2014, cleared $26,000, a little less than last year because the venue wasn’t ready and they had to do some rushed renovations at the last minute. Derrick Days got $13,000 of that in a 50-50 split with VOICE.

“Last year, we sold $40,000 in food and beverage tickets. This year, we sold $46,000,” Townes said.

Some events were just draws. The Wednesday hot dog luncheon and supper was underwritten, as was the street dance, both of which are free and open to the public. The wine and cheese stroll cost a little bit, but attracted more participants.

There was no question that the festival has found its feet again, although things looked rocky for a bit in 2013.

“We had recovered before we put the event on last year because of all the help we got and then the Oil Baron’s Ball,” Townes said.

Getting ahead last year meant more attractions this year.

“What we’re trying to do is add something new each year,” Townes said. “An extra stage or more clowns. We keep adding more stuff.”

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