Hat Daze: Vikings invade Lancer land

CANBY – Blue skies encompassed the Canby Hat Daze celebration, setting an uplifting mood for all of the festivities this weekend in Canby.

Lori Vangaard, a teacher at St. Peter’s Catholic School, couldn’t even complain about getting submerged in cold water while volunteering at the dunk tank Saturday in Central Park. Young Eli Greenman was the first to hit the target, dunking Vangaard.

After Taylor and Kendyl Shelstad of Madison gave it a try, Vangaard’s mother, Kathy Weber, then contributed to the fundraiser, dunking her own daughter for the cause.

“I was pretty glad the sun came out,” Vangaard said. “It’s just a great atmosphere. I think there are even more people here this year.”

Along with Don Hautkooper of Canby, Matthew Frazeur and his father Stu Frazeur were interested in learning about the Viking Age from Viking Age Club members Gary and Helen Anderson of Chaska, Dennis Rusinko of Minneapolis and Lars Walker of Robbinsdale.

“We’re a society that studies the Viking period,” Helen Anderson said. “We’ve been going for about 26 years now. We belong to the lodge in the Twin Cities, Syttende Mai 517.”

Anderson said representatives go around to different events, sharing their knowledge of the Vikings.

“People are interested everywhere we go,” Anderson said. “We have been to Canby before, but it was many years ago.”

Matthew Frazeur, a sophomore at Canby, was especially appreciate to learn about the Viking history.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “I learned how hard it is to make chainmail and how expensive it is.”

Chainmail is armour that consists of small metal rings linked together to form a stab-resistant mesh.

“The raw materials would be worth its weight in silver,” Frazeur said. “It took 250 hours to make this partial piece. A full piece would cover the body, with full sleeves and then down to the ankles. Gary said it cost about the price of a farm.”

The Frazeurs also learned about the Viking weapons and helms (helmets) from the Andersons.

“The Vikings had spears, axes and swords,” Helen Anderson said. “The only real weapon of war is the sword. There was no standing army, so if there were problems, people took everyday tools to use, like the axe farmers used and the spears used for hunting. This was the period from 1062 to 1100 A.D.”

Anderson also demonstrated card weaving, which goes back to Egyptian and Roman times.

“You weave using cards,” she said. “I use the inkle loom method. You have to be careful not to tangle the thread.”

For the most part, Anderson used the weaving products as trim for clothing, as a belt or on hats.

“In the Viking period, they used wool or linen thread. They didn’t have cotton yet. They’d get the wool off of sheep, then clean, dye and spin it on a drop spindle to weave it. They often dyed the wool using berries because they like bright colors. They weren’t very color-coordinated, though.”

Countless people lined the streets to watch the annual Hat Daze parade, including Mary Stockinger, her boyfriend Zack Sterzinger, Sterzinger’s son Gabe and other family members.

“This is my first time at this parade,” Stockinger said. “It’s exciting. I didn’t go to any parades last year.”

There was a lot of interaction between the parade watchers and those actually in the parade. Like other kids along the parade route, Tallen and Braelyn Merritt, Bryant Hansen, Mason Merritt and Adrianna Christianson collected large amounts of candy.

After the parade, a number of people gathered at Central Park for a variety of activities. While 13-year-old Tristan Sorensen had his hair painted pink, brothers Hayden and Jase opted for orange and blue hair.

The various bouncy houses and slides were, of course, a big hit, especially the inflatable called “The Wrecking Ball.” One inflatable, however, had parents second-guessing whether or not they should let their kids go on it. While the inflatable had everything a kid loves, including climbing, sliding and water, it ended up creating something the organizers hadn’t planned on – mud!

“I’m having a blast,” said Mandee Mattys, who, despite being covered in mud, was all smiles as she and the other kids repeated the course over and over again.

During the fireman department water fight, brothers Dawson and Mason Doyscher of Volga, S.D., along with twins Lincoln and Austin Ourada of Redwood Falls, didn’t mind getting a little wet.

“When the firefighter on this side lose, all the water comes this way,” Dawson Doyscher said. “But that’s OK.”

Standing next to the boys, a girl about 10 years old said aloud what a lot of people were probably thinking, especially in light of all the rain and cold weather recently in southwest Minnesota: “This is the best day ever,” she said.

There was also no shortage of food available or music to listen to while at Hat Daze. The weekend schedule also included the annual air show at the Canby Airport.