It’s time for “The Big One” in Canton.
Every five years, the community volunteers host a three-day festival, celebrating the town’s residents and long history. Smaller events are held on the Saturday closest to Aug. 15 on the other years with the funds raised during those festivities being used to pay for entertainment and parade entries for what they have termed “The Big One.”
Because the large celebration is only held once every five years, the committee has chosen five grand marshals to lead Saturday’s parade. They are Hank and Rita Selden, Audrey Snyder, Butch Helgeson, Irene Rice and Marlene Wisland. Yes, that’s six people, but Hank and Rita count as one, explained Jackie Ward, a Canton Day Off committee member.
The festivities kick off on Friday night with an all-school gathering, beer tent, barbecue contest kick-off, bloody mary contest and teen dance.
Saturday activities include a truck show, softball tournament, a Raider Dash 5K Run/Walk, tractor ride, baking contests, dunk tank, games for kids, a money dig for kids, dances and entertainment in the Fest Tent. The parade will be held at 3 p.m. down Canton’s Main Street.
Sunday kicks off with the annual meatball dinner at the Catholic church, a bed race at 1 p.m., racing at Canton Speedway, bar bingo and a dance featuring Country Cousins. Fireworks will conclude the celebration at dusk.
A complete list of activities can be found online at www.cantondayoff.com, but a few highlights are included below.
Softball field dedication
On Friday evening, the Canton softball field will be dedicated in memory of Ralph Leistikow. The field will now bear his name in honor of the work he did to organize and facilitate the Canton Softball League.
The sign will be dedicated at 6:30 p.m. at the Canton field.
The Canton Softball League attracts a large group of slow pitch players, families and fans to Canton each Tuesday evening during the summer.
Leistikow also served as the only umpire of the Canton League for many years. He was honored by the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame as an organizer, promoter and umpire. The Hall of Fame annually recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the sport of softball.
Leistikow retired in 1999 after 34 years of teaching, 32 of which were spent in elementary physical education along with a few coaching duties at St. Charles.
Leistikow grew up in Canton where he graduated from high school in 1958.
At age 15, he taught himself to become a dominant fast pitch softball pitcher. He played on several area teams before, during and after his college years at Winona State. Leistikow met his wife, the former Phyllis Bakken of Decorah, while playing for the Burr Oak Lutheran Church team.
Leistikow died in July of 2010, just a year after being named a grand marshal of the Canton Day Off parade.
A free dance for teens will be held on Friday evening, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Canton Town Hall. Music will be provided by DJ Dewy. Food will be available for purchase.
Bloody Mary Contest
A new contest to this year’s celebration, the Bloody Mary Contest will be held on Friday evening at 7 p.m. in the Fest Tent. Those wishing to enter their concoctions must supply enough ingredients for two quarts of bloody mary mix and garnishments if desired. The contest committee will provide the containers in which the drink will be presented to the judges.
The winners will be determined by people’s choice and based on points system.
Each participating team will submit the entry by 6:50 p.m. and awards will be presented at 8 p.m. Entry fee is $20 per team with 100 percent payback for first and second places.
A Raiders Rendezvous Prom will be held in the Fest Tent from 8 p.m. to midnight. Music will be provided by Stateline Entertainment. A grand march will be held at 9 p.m. to showcase some “lovely” prom attire from the past.
A 5K fun run and walk will be held on Saturday. Registration for The Raider Dash will be held from 8 to 8:45 a.m. at the former Canton school. The run starts at 9 a.m. Entry fee is $25. One may register online prior to the event at www.cantondayoff.com
One of the new events being held this weekend is a baking contest for homemade bread and homemade pie. The entry fee is $5 per item. Entries should be brought to the town hall on Saturday between 9 and 10:30 a.m. Judging will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
All entries should be homemade with fresh ingredients, stressed organizer Sandy Benson.
The items will be judged on appearance, ingredients and taste.
Pies can be of any kind – from apple to raisin cream to cherry or pumpkin. However, pie crusts must be made from scratch and fruit pies must be made with fresh fruits.
Breads can also be of any kind – white, wheat, raisin, sour dough, rye, whole grain or even cranberry nut bread. All loaves must be made from scratch.
Prizes will be given for the top three entries. First prize will receive $125, second will receive $50 and third will receive $25.
Returning for its second year, the Boomer Backyard BBQ Cook Off will be held on Friday and Saturday.
There is a $3,000 payout with four meat categories – pork ribs, Boston butt, chicken quarters and brisket. Entry fees are $150 per team and meat will be provided.
Check-in is 5 p.m. Friday at the town hall and cooking will continue through Saturday at noon when judging begins.
Samples will be provided to the public from noon to 2 p.m.
The bed races will be held in downtown Canton on Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m.
Participants must sign up, beginning at 12:30. Entry fee is $10 with 100 percent payback. Prizes will be awarded to first, second and third place in the race as well as a prize awarded to the team that has the Best Bed Costume and Design.
Bed race teams will consist of four pushers and one rider and all must be 18 years of age or older.
Races will consist of heats of two beds each, will be 100 yards in distance and winners of each heat will go on to next round.
If one is interested in entering the bed race, contact Cindy Shanks at (507) 743-8484.
Those participating are also encouraged to take their bed through the parade on Saturday.
For more information on the Canton Day Off celebration, one can visit the website, www.cantondayoff.com or visit the celebration page on Facebook.