The 93 year old Inwood Ballroom at Riverside Park in Spillville has special memories for many people, besides being one of a few active and unique ballrooms left in Iowa. Please come to the fundraiser at the Inwood this Friday, November 1 to help raise funds to replace the dining area floors that took major abuse during three major floods in 1933, 1993, and in 2008. The estimated cost of the project which is to be installed in November is a hefty $50,000, but well worth it to keep the historic treasure in use.
The evening begins with burgers, brats and Dave Ludwig’s famous chili starting at 5 p.m. with reduced drink prices. There will be a variety of games set up for young and old alike. If you are into memorabilia, you won’t want to miss the silent auction of vintage Inwood items. Stay the evening and enjoy a local band, Gotcha Covered, who will begin to perform at 8:30 p.m.
In the November/December 2006 issue of “The Iowan” magazine, this photographer/writer was able to score her first magazine photo assignment as the magazine wrote about how very few ballrooms are left in Iowa, including a ballroom that is close to us Spillvillians, The Inwood Ballroom here in town.
In the book by Spillville resident, Edythe Cekal, called “The Inwood” written in 1995 to celebrate 75 years in operation, people were asked to tell about their memories of the ballroom. Letters came from all over the country.
One memory came from Mayme Houdek Wendl, written June 15, 1994, saying, “Without a doubt, the Inwood Ballroom remains the most potent memory of my girlhood. It was a fantasy place of music, lights, dreams and romance.”
Starting in 1920, regional and local bands began playing at the newly constructed pavilion. From the 1930’s to the 1950’s many renovations and an expansion was undertaken by the community of Spillville. During that time national acts began playing at the Inwood. Lawrence Welk, Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, the Six Fat Dutchmen, Leo Greco, Guy Lombardo, and more performed to sell out crowds. The days are long past when the Inwood hosted famous bands of the day like Tom & Jimmy Dorsey and Sammy Kaye.
In the sixties the “Teen Hops” flourished and in the seventies the wedding dances on Saturday night at the Inwood was the place to be. This historic entertainment center which is open from April through October entered into the Iowa RockNRoll Hall of Fame in the early 2000’s. Now days, polka fests and wedding receptions/dances are the norm, besides community activities, and car and motorcycle events.
Donations can also be mailed to: Inwood Ballroom Replacement Fund, P.O. Box 26, Spillville, IA 52168. Sending your memories of The Inwood is also encouraged to help with grant applications. Volunteers are also asked to contact one of the mangers Mark Kuhn (563-419-6441), Ruth Kuhn (563-419-1905), or Wanda Cole (563-380-6012) if they can help with the fundraiser or to help tear out the old floor and install the new one.
Although many ballrooms have fallen by the wayside, the Inwood Ballroom is still operating today as the ideal place for wedding dances, polka parties, big band music, and other musical events and it needs your help to continue the tradition.