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DAYTON — Big city folk who turn up their noses at small town life have never been to an event like Dayton Days.
It may not be a big name concert with a dazzling light show or a water park with the latest, greatest water slide thrills, but it is fun. It is fun with neighbors and friends who have a lengthy history of reveling in the one-golf-club Cow Pie Classic, the silliness of a duck race and the pure Americana of a parade and a concert in the park.
“It’s a family fun, small-town-at-its-best event,” Dayton Town Clerk Linda Lofgren said.
This year marks the 37th Annual Dayton Days, and the theme — Tongue River Eagles Soar — is sure to fill the weekend’s events with true blue hometown pride from the Cow Pie Classic and pet parade Friday evening until everyone goes home drenched and smiling after the famed water fight at Town Hall Sunday afternoon.
Dayton Days has a little something for everyone — golfers, runners, music lovers, children and even llamas and turtles, event organizer Bob Alley said.
For 10 or 11 years, the kickoff event has been the Cow Pie Classic.
True to its name, there are, indeed, cow pies involved. Contestants will choose one golf club, be it a nine-iron, a putter or a sand wedge, and head out to the Horseshoe Ranch for a round of golf, country style. Tee boxes may be a tuft of weeds, a clump of dirt or a cow pie. Each golfer gets one stroke with one club to get as close to the designated pins as possible. As many as 50 or 60 golfers stamp around an open field, finishing the night with a family barbecue.
Also on Friday is the pet parade in Scott Park. Children can dress up their pets — any pet — and show them off. For 37 years, the pet parade has been a hallmark event of Dayton Days with cows, llamas and turtles joining the fun. The pet parade will be followed by a kid-friendly movie in the park at dusk. Bring a blanket and some snacks and curl up under the stars for a night with movie stars.
Saturday will offer a full day of fun, starting with the Rotary Pancake Breakfast. With full bellies, everyone will be able to enjoy the Dayton Days Mile Race that starts above the high school, the Dayton Days parade down Main Street, a duck race, a 3-on-3 volleyball tournament and music provided by the Drum and Bugle Corp. and Dave Munsick and Sons.
Longtime coaches Larry and Diane Moser will lead the parade as grand marshalls. Richard Gruber, who served as an all-sports coach and superintendent in the 1950s and 1960s, will join the parade, as well, to contribute to the Tongue River High School pride.
On Sunday, the community will gather at Town Hall for a high powered water fight. Three-man teams will face each other and use water from fire hoses provided by the Dayton Volunteer Fire Department to push a 16-gallon keg hanging on a wire stretched over the teams into the opposing team’s territory.
“Everybody looks forward to it,” Alley said. “Just like Sheridan-Wyo-Rodeo Week is a big deal in Sheridan, Dayton Days is a big deal for the people out here.”
• For more information, call Dayton Town Hall at 655-2217 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
37th Annual Dayton Days
Friday, July 26
5 p.m.: Cow Pie Classic at the Horseshoe Ranch. Contact: John Pilch, 655-9002.
6 p.m.: Pet Parade in Scott Bicentennial Park
Dusk: Movie in the park
Saturday, July 27
6:30 to 9:30 a.m.: Rotary Pancake Breakfast on Third Street
9:45 a.m.: Dayton Days Mile Race at Tongue River High School. Register on Main Street.
10 a.m.: Parade down Main Street, with food and fun to follow in the park
12:30 p.m.: Duck Race on Tongue River. Finish line at Scott Bicentennial Park Band Shell
12:30 p.m.: Drum and Bugle Corp. at Scott Bicentennial Park
1 to 3 p.m.: Dave Munsick and Sons at Scott Bicentennial Park
1 to 3 p.m.: 3-on-3 volleyball tournament at Scott Bicentennial Park
Sunday, July 28
1 p.m.: Annual volunteer firefighter water fights at Dayton Town Hall. Contact: Terry Caywood, 751-8216.