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Cando, ND theater celebrates 100 years

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Cando, ND (WDAZ TV) - For one hundred years...through ups and downs, and near destruction, residents in Cando, North Dakota have always had the Audi Theater.

With leadership committed to keeping the arts vibrant in their community, they're celebrating the theater's centennial with an eye to the future.

History is written on the walls backstage at the Audi Theater. Generations of performers leaving their mark over the decades.

Babe Belzer/Cando Arts Council: “In the 6th grade, 1946.”   

Jo Staus/Cando Arts Council President: “I was in Cinderella. I was a footman, and my mom sewed my costume.”

The grand old building, built for just $12,000 in 1915, has served as everything from a movie house...    

Staus remembers, “The first movie I remember watching upstairs was Footloose. The feet going across the screen, that's just burned in my brain.” a basketball court in the 1920s.

Belzer says, “They always said Cando had an extra player because they had these pillars that the other teams were not familiar with, trying to dribble around.”

Locals say it's also a good place to take a date.

When asked if many locals met their spouse at the Audi, Belzer replied, “Could be? I did!”

After a while, the theater fell on hard times. The city nearly tore it down in the early 80's, before volunteers renovated the building.

Belzer says, “We discovered there was lots of stuff that should have been taken out.”

An art gallery was added then. The displays were just upgraded this year.

Staus explains, “We made them wider so they could hold more art.”

And the Arts Council reintroduced community theater.

Belzer says, “Kids musicals, and adult musicals. We've had performing groups here.”

Long-time residents of Cando say they're glad that a new generation is coming up to help keep amazing history like this alive.

Belzer adds, “I hope the young people will continue to love it, and that they will work for it. They definitely turn out in huge numbers for the events.”

The Cando Arts Council, founded after the 1980s renovation, says it's committed to the arts.

Staus says, “My heartstrings get tugged any time it has to do with musicals and plays.”

Volunteers say they realize that if they theater goes away, it won't come back. So they're doing everything they can to make sure it stays a part of the Cando community.

The Cando Arts Council is planning celebrations for the next year for the theater's centennial, starting with an outdoor movie screening on August sixth.

Adam Ladwig

Adam Ladwig joined WDAZ as the Devils Lake bureau reporter in January, 2012. Prior to that he reported for KDUH-TV in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Adam has won multiple awards during his time at WDAZ, including an Eric Sevareid award and a Regional Emmy Award as part of team coverage during the search for Anthony Kuznia.  A Colorado native, Adam graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in Journalism. He misses the Rocky Mountains, but the kind people of North Dakota more than make up for that. He is thrilled to be in the Lake Region, telling stories that matter. In his spare time, Adam is usually futilely attempting to get in shape, or cheering for his beloved Denver Broncos.