By Per Peterson
Back in 1951, the theme for Tracy’s Box Car Days was “Have Fun in ’51.”
The very same can be said for this year — not just because of the fact that it rhymes, but because Tracy and area residents are overdue for some big fun this year.
In 2020, Tracy’s biggest weekend was taken off the calendar because of COVID-19. This year, the event is back and is as big as ever.
BCD committee member Lexi Erickson said she is glad to have Tracy’s annual celebration back after nothing but the Miss Tracy Scholarship Program took place a year ago.
“It was very hard last year not being able to celebrate like we normally do,” Erickson said. “We were lucky enough to be able to have sponsors, volunteers and hard-working individuals to at least have Miss Tracy with streaming … but it still wasn’t the same as seeing everybody down at the beer tent, having a Lions burger, or seeing all the kids have fun on the midway. One positive thing is it’s just going to make 2021 that much better.”
The 94th annual Box Car Days festival kicks off Friday, Sept. 3, with the Tracy Area Chamber Burger Night, followed by the beer pong tournament.
On Saturday, BBQ aficionados will take over Morgan St. for the annual BBQ Cook-Off, with judging at 4 p.m. and the Rib Fest at 5 p.m. The annual “400 Open” golf tournament will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, and human foosball also begins that day on Morgan St.
There will be two new features at Central Park Sunday: a sprint station at 11 a.m. sponsored by the Panther Strength & Conditioning program, and the ever-popular dunk tank. The TMB girls’ basketball dunk tank will feature the following dunkees: teacher and girls’ head basketball coach Derek Ashbaugh (11 a.m.), teacher and head football coach Jason Kainz (11:30 a.m.), TAHS Activities Director Bill Tauer (noon), Lyon County Sheriff Eric Wallen (12:30 p.m.), Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Connor (1 p.m.), Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen (1:30 p.m.), teacher Billy Dean (2 p.m.), football coach and teacher Ryan Kruse (3 p.m.), and football coach and teacher Alex Greenway (3:30 p.m.).
“We’re excited to add a few new things to our kids’ day in the park,” Erickson said. “We’re excited to have Head Start there with a booth with some information about their program. And then someone from the Lyon County 150th Anniversary committee will be there to promote that.”
The Kiddie Parade will be at 4:30 (registration) Saturday. The parade will start in the Sanford parking lot, and this year’s theme is “When I Grow Up,” or “Anything you want to be.”
Other events at the park Sunday include inflatables and bungee trampolines, a kids’ pedal pull and Tae Kwon Do demonstrations. Mud volleyball will return at 9 a.m. at The Caboose, and the horseshoe tournament at Nehl’s Park begins at 10 a.m.
Dad’s Belgian Waffles will be served from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday at St. Mary’s Church Hall, Morgan & 6th St. with take-out available. And speaking of breakfast, pancakes will start flipping at 7 a.m. Monday for the annual Fly-In/Drive-In Breakfast at the airport. Registration for Monday’s Box Car Days Road Race will begin at 7:30 a.m. with an 8:30 a.m. start time. The Miss Tracy Scholarship Program begins at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the high school.
Other items of note Monday include a farmers’ market at the new Cinnamon Hen on U.S. Hwy. 14, the St. Mary’s Arts & Craft Fair, and St. Mary’s Food Stand (located this year in the Above The Fold parking lot).
The Grand Parade will take place at 1 p.m. sharp on Monday. This year’s parade will be a bit shorter than in years past. The route will be significantly shorter this year, including only Morgan from 2nd to 4th streets, and 4th to Emory, all the way back to Central Park.
“It will be quicker, but then it will be more packed, so you know that the whole route is going to have a lot of people,” said Erickson. “It will be more compact, but it will be a great parade.”
BCD committee member Khyle Radke said it was nice to make plans for this year’s celebration, knowing full well that there would, indeed, be one. Last year, he said, there was no telling during the planning stages if anything would happen. Ultimately, the event, like so many others in the state, didn’t happen.
“We were all gung-ho with planning for last year, but we didn’t know if everything was going to get shut down,” Radke said. “We start meeting in March … then all of a sudden it’s like, well, they just canceled the State Fair, so we probably shouldn’t do anything. To be able to get back to the usual is nice.”
Radke said he’s heard from people in other communities who have already had their respective celebrations that their celebrations drew more people than usual.
“They’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people,” he said. “Hopefully it’s just a zoo, but that there’s no ill side effects. It’s going to be huge. We’ve tried to ramp things up this year to make sure we have more than whatever we need — everybody’s been running out of stuff.”
Friday, Sept. 3
Tracy Area Chamber Burger Night
5 p.m. beer tent opens in the Municipal Parking Lot in downtown Tracy.
5-8 p.m. Build your own burger. “Box Car Days Volunteer Night.”
Beer Pong Tournament
8 p.m. at the beer tent. Registration at 7 p.m. 2-person teams.
Cost $20 per team. Cash prizes awarded.
Saturday, Sept. 4
Morgan Street. 7:30-9:00 a.m. registration, 9:30 a.m. Cook’s Meeting, 4 p.m. Judging, 7 p.m. Awards – over $1,000 in awards.
5:00-7:00 p.m. Following cook-off. $2 per ticket for one rib or $10 for 5 tickets. Live music provided by Matt Browne 3:30-6:30 p.m..
Kegs & Eggs
Serving up scrambled eggs, sausages, bloody mary bar & beverages in the beer tent 8:30 a.m. – noon or until gone.
Annual “400 Open” Golf Tournament
11 a.m. Registration/12 p.m. Shotgun start. 9-Hole; 3-4-5-person best ball at Tracy Country Club. $25 per person. Call (507) 629-4666 to sign up.
“Texas Hold ‘Em” Tournament
2 p.m. located at Tracy Eagles Club (154 Fourth Street).
16 Years and older. 10 a.m. Registration, 11 a.m. Start. $30 per team.
Morgan Street. Contact (507) 629-4021.
Bean Bag Tournament
2 p.m. registration; 3 p.m. tournament. $30 per team. Located next to the beer tent. Contact (507) 629-4021.
“Zero” K Fun Run
3:45 p.m. Registration/ 4 p.m. “Shotgun” start. $20 per person. Located in beer tent.
New parade route – Starting at the Sanford back parking lot. 4:30 p.m. Registration, 5:00 p.m. Prize for every participant. Categories: “When I Grow Up” or “Anything you want to be.” For ages up to 12. Sponsored by Above The Fold Publishing/Tracy Area Headlight Herald, (507) 629-4300.
Located at softball complex in Industrial Park on East Hwy. 14. Starts at 9 a.m.
$125 entry fee. Payouts based on teams. Contact Greg (507) 259-0748 to sign up.
Sunday, Sept. 5
Dad’s Belgian Waffles
9 a.m.-1 p.m. at St. Mary’s Church Hall, Morgan & 6th St. Take-outs available.
Mud Volleyball Tournament
Located at The Caboose, Hwy. 14. 6 person teams. $60 per team. Starts at 9:00 a.m. Contact Tracy Chamber at (507) 629-4021.
10 a.m., Nehls Park, Hwy. 14. Registration 9:30 a.m. Contact (507) 531-0364.
Central Park Activities:
• Inflatables & Bungee Trampolines
10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Free. Sponsored by Tracy Area Chamber of Commerce.
• NEW! Dunk Tank
11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sponsored by TMB Girls Basketball.
• NEW! Sprint Station
11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sponsored by Panther Strength & Conditioning.
• Kids Pedal Pull
Ages 4-11. 11 a.m. Registration, 11:30 a.m. pull
• Tae Kwon Do Demonstrations
Following pedal pull
15 Years and younger. 1 p.m. Registration, 2 p.m. Start. FREE. Morgan Street. Contact (507) 629-4021.
“Texas Hold ‘Em” Tournament
2 p.m. located at Tracy Eagles Club (154 Fourth Street).
Miss Tracy Scholarship Program, 6:30 p.m., Tracy Area High School
Monday, Sept. 6
7-11 a.m. at Tracy Municipal Airport located 1/2 mile north on Cty. Rd. 11.
Pancake Breakfast available – Adults $7; Kids 10 & under $3. Cars, Motorcycles & Planes welcome.
Box Car Day Road Race
5K Walk/Run, 10K Run, and Kids mile and 1/2 mile race. Pre-registration highly encouraged. 7:30 a.m. Registration/check-in; 8:30 a.m. race starts at Central Park. Contact Marie Hanson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
9 a.m.-Noon. Located at Cinnamon Hen, Hwy. 14. Contact Tom or Nancy Dobson 320-309-9389 or email email@example.com
St. Mary’s Arts & Crafts Fair
9 a.m.-3 p.m. at VMC gym.
Contact Nikki Lee (507) 829-3035 or Amanda Johns (507) 629-8215.
St. Mary’s Food Stand
9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Above The Fold Publishing parking lot, Corner of 4th & Morgan Streets.
Nursing & Diaper Changing Station
Located in a tent near the beer tent and bingo stand. Sponsored by Southwest Health & Human Services.
Friday 6:30-11:00 p.m.; Saturday 4:00-11:00 p.m.
Sunday 1:00-11:00 p.m.; Monday 2:30-6:00 p.m.
Tracy Area Chamber Beer Tent
Located in Municipal Parking Lot in Downtown Tracy. Canned beer & liquor.
Friday: Open 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.; 8 p.m. Beer Pong Tournament; Karaoke 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Saturday: Open 8:30 a.m. – 1 a.m.; 8:30 a.m. Kegs & Eggs & Bloody Mary Bar; 3:45 p.m. Zero K Fun Run, 9 p.m. Street Dance.
Sunday: Open Noon to Midnight; 8 p.m. DJ
Monday: Open Noon to 6 p.m.; Hobo Band performance following parade; 3 p.m. Pigeon Races. Booze Wagon Raffle.
Midwest Rides and Concessions
Saturday: All Rides, Games & Food Stands Open at 4 p.m.
Bracelet Night 7-11 p.m. Arm bands are $20.00
Sunday: Open Noon. Bracelet Day 1-5 p.m.
Monday: Open, Noon
Wheels Across The Prairie Museum
& Antique Tractor Show
Buttons on sale now at the museum for entrance each day of Box Car Days.
Adults $6.00; Children 12-4 years $2.00; 3 and under Free
Friday: Open 1-5 p.m.
Saturday: Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Serving Pork Burgers, Chips & Drink 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Root Beer Floats 12-3 p.m.
Sunday: Open 1-5 p.m.
Monday: Open 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
All Weekend: Tractor Show
Tractor Drive, Friday, Saturday & Sunday,
Contact Jeff/John Meyer (507) 629-4095.
Lions Food Stand
Located on 3rd Street. Saturday 2-11 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Monday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Asian Hut Food Stand
Located Downtown. Serving Egg Rolls, Spring Rolls, Bubble Tea Smoothies, Chicken Teriyaki with Jasmine Rice.
Sweet Kettle Madness
Located behind DAC building. Serving fresh popped kettle corn, caramel corn and homemade lemonade.