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Tickets on sale for Gyro Days festival

by JOSH McDONALD
Staff Writer | May 26, 2023 1:00 AM

WALLACE — The annual Gyro Days festival is just a few weeks away and the Wallace Gyro Club is selling tickets for the Lead Creek Derby fundraiser.

The Lead Creek Derby is the main event of the four-day festival and is one of the more unique traditions in the region.

The Gyro Ball is dropped into the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River at the Last Chance Bridge in Mullan. After the ball drops, people get on their bikes, Jeeps, cars, trucks or skateboards and follow the ball to the finish line at Wallace’s Sixth Street Bridge.

In the weeks leading up to the derby, businesses will be selling tickets that are each assigned a hypothetical computer-generated time that it will take for the ball to reach Wallace. The buyer of the ticket with the assigned time that is closest to the actual time wins the first-place prize.

“The large ball floating down the creek is a unique sight to see for everyone,” Gyro Mike Dexter said. “The crowd celebrates the entire way down the creek as the Gyros help make sure the ball does not get hung up on trees or shrubs.”

2023 will be the 81st anniversary of the first event, which began in 1942 and continued annually until the 2020 edition of the event fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In June 1942, things were a little different than now,” Dexter said. “FDR was president and America had just joined the war. However, one thing was the same; the Wallace Gyro Club was looking to raise funds to help others. Back then, they sent cigarettes to our troops overseas with the money raised from the first Lead Creek Derby.”

81 years later, the funds raised through the derby go to providing scholarships for students in the Wallace and Mullan school districts, as well as supporting other youth and community events.

Gyro Days is much more than just the Lead Creek Derby, though.

The festival always kicks off the Wednesday evening before the derby, but instead of the traditional radio days that used to open the event, club members Chase Sanborn and Greg Bosen will host a Facebook Live event outside the Wallace Elks.

Thursday evening is when the party really gets going as Cedar Street fills with the bright lights of carnival rides and the screams of delight that accompany them.

“We’ve got the same great carnival again this year that we have had the last several years. They’ll have rides and games, and we encourage everyone to come to Wallace on Thursday or Friday night or all day and night on Saturday to enjoy the carnival,” Gyro president Scott Leitch, said.

Friday night, while the carnival continues, the Wallace Elks Drum and Bugle Corps will parade through the city.

Lead Creek Derby tickets are available for purchase at local businesses and restaurants in Wallace.

First prize in the derby is 50 one-ounce silver rounds, after that, there are 13 other cash prizes that will be awarded, so locals are encouraged to purchase as many tickets as they can.

Gyro Days begins Wednesday, June 14, and the 81st annual Lead Creek Derby begins Saturday, June 17, at noon in Mullan.