The event began in 1966 as a project of the Chamber of Commerce. Over the years it has grown to the point that a non-profit corporation was needed to operate the festival.
The first half-dozen flea market vendor s have grown to number more than 300, while the snake hunters now bring in more than 1,500 rattlesnakes each year.
For those who do not want anyting to do with rattlesnakes, there is still a lot to do at the derby from attending the arts and crafts show in the National Guard Armory building to riding rides and playing games at the carnival.
Those who enjoy flea markets will have a blast in Mangum as vendors are lined up to 4 and 5 rows deep in the streets around the downtown courthouse. Even the courthouse lawn if filled with flea market vendors.
There is also a great variety of food vendors selling everything from funnel cakes and cinnamon rolls, to roasted corn on the cob, turkey legs, and yes, even fried rattlensnake meat and rattlesnake chili.
For those who want to see some snakes, there is pit on the southwest corner of the square where people can walk right up and view live rattlers, attend the tent show to see men walking among live snakes, go to the butcher shop show to see how rattlesnakes are processed, or go on a bus tour to see rattlesnakes in their natural environment.
There is also a crowning ceremony on Saturday of Miss Derby Princess, lots of free outdoor concerts, clogging demonstrations and a dance.