1966 - The History of the First Shad Derby Queen
The year was 1966, 12 years later from the conservative beginnings of Connecticut's first town's annual Shad Fishing Derby. The word conservative is remembered as key, because indeed conservation was the issue at the time.
The Windsor Rod and Gun Club under the direction of John Cardillo was concerned about cleaning up the Connecticut River. The Windsor Shad-Fishing Derby was used as a vehicle to present what the Connecticut Rivers had to offer.
By 1966 however, organizers of the Derby were looking for other ways to promote the event in the New England area, which had grown from a one day fishing contest to a full blown Festival through the involvement from dedicated members of the Windsor Chamber of Commerce. A contest winner holding a big fish was all fine and well, but what if that contest winner was graced with the presence of a beautiful young woman? Thus the first Windsor Shad Derby Queen Pageant was conceived.
The first Shad Derby Queen of 1966 was Joan Dombkowski of Windsor, CT. Miss Dombkowski was 19 years old at the time and was attending Hartford College for Women. Her sponsor for the Pageant was Windsor Garage. Miss Dombkowski was crowned Shad Derby Queen and was presented with her trophy at a Coronation Ball on Friday, May 13th at the Windsor Elks Club by Mrs. Gloria R. Kousch, selection chairman. Windsor's own Carlan Goslee escorted Miss Dombkowski in the grand march. Judge for the first Shad Derby Pageant was Frank Mochun of Windsor.
Miss Dombkowski received many prizes as the first Windsor Shad Derby Queen such as a mink stole, a cascade of roses, a television set, several radios and a trip to Bermuda via a BOAC VC10 jet. Her escorts on this trip were Richard Carlson of Windsor's radio station WEHW and his lovely wife. Airline tickets were given courtesy of BOAC by of Mr. J. J. Ekeron.
As the first Shad Derby Queen, Miss Dombkowski rode in a open convertible in the Shad Derby Parade on Saturday, May 14th and presented trophies for outstanding floats and of course that year's Shad Derby fishing winner, Sal DeLusso of East Hartford. Mr. DeLusso caught a 7lb 12 1/2-oz. Roe. Over 7,000 spectators came out to look at Windsor's very first Shad Derby Queen.