MASON CITY – When it comes to summer celebrations, some traditions are just built to last. This is certainly true for Mason City’s Homecoming, which has been sustaining some of its familiar traditions for generations.
The three-day festival will run from the evening of Friday, July 22 until the afternoon of the following Sunday, July 24. Among the most storied events will be the Best Dressed Turtle contest coinciding with the turtle races on Friday at 6:30 p.m. Village clerk Donna Hoblyn-Bittner says the contest, for Mason City, are far from a recent trend.
“It’s been around since I was a little kid,” she jokes, “Which was a long time ago.”
Contestants will be able to race their dressed turtles, and if they win, Hoblyn-Bittner says, “It’s a twofer.”
Additionally, Friday will feature a 5:30 p.m. Fireman’s BBQ at the community building and an ice cream social at 6. A beer garden on Main Street will open at 6 p.m. and go until midnight. While Friday evening seems mostly geared toward adults, Hoblyn-Bitter assures families that plenty of kids’ activities are on the docket as well.
“We have kids’ games scheduled right after the turtle races. We do the three-legged race, we do a sack race and foot races, and we do a good old-fashioned egg toss.”
Friday concludes with an ever-popular cornhole tournament at 7:30 p.m, which Hoblyn-Bittner says should prove to be pretty tenacious. “I think we’ve got some pretty competitive families in Mason City,” she says. Registration can happen in advance, or in person before the event.
Saturday’s crown jewel is the Mason City Parade; the theme this year is “Once Upon a Time,” and embodies perfectly, according to Hoblyn-Bittner, Mason City’s traditional celebration.
“It fits with a lot of different aspects: ‘Once Upon a Time’ we used to farm with a plow, ‘Once Upon a Time’ we used to have our mail delivered by the Pony Express. It can go a lot of different directions.” The lineup will begin at 9 a.m. on the corner of Prentiss and Calhoun Streets.
Saturday will also feature a slow-pitch softball tournament before the parade at 9 a.m., and two community meals: one just after the parade, and another at 6 p.m. The tractor pull will be sandwiched between the meals, another perennial summer tradition Hoblyn-Bittner says the community takes great pride in.
“We’re one of the very few communities that do keep the tractor pull going. The Hawkins family has done a fantastic job throughout generations. Irwin had kicked things off way back when I was little, had a fantastic pull, and Chris continues the tradition.”
Sunday wraps up with a 10 a.m. nondenominational church service in the park, an alumni dinner at 12:30 p.m., and a 1 p.m. horseshoe tournament. A flier of the weekend is above, and more information is below.