A Grand ‘Ol Time

Posted: Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 1:41 pm
By: Doug Lund
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fair gateHad a fine time at the South Dakota State Fair last week. I went to Huron to sing a few songs on the Freedom Stage with Mogen’s Heroes. A warm but fulfilling day..not only because the crowds were great but also had a chance to catch up with a couple old friends. Steve Hemmingsen read my blog and thought, what the hell, so he buttoned up his chateau on the shores of beautiful Lake Hendricks and pointed his pickup west and took a drive over to Huron for the afternoon. It was great to reminisce about all those years we represented Keloland at the fair handing out program schedules and autographing Keloland sun visors. Former governor, Harvey Wollman and his wife, Anne, were also in the audience and between shows, he came by in one of the fair’s oversize golf carts and offered Steve and I a lift to the beer garden under the grandstand. “I’ll buy you one,” he says. It was so much fun listening to Harvey and Steve talking politics between sips of an ice cold Budweiser. Too bad policy makers can’t just sit down over a cold one like that and hash things out with humor and insight rather than ranting the same tired old party line rhetoric on the public stage.

corn dog

I had been salivating for a state fair footlong corn dog for weeks but after a long wait to have one freshly made, the concoction handed to me by the young lady with a heavy Russian accent, was practically inedible. How do you screw up a corndog for cryin’ out loud? The batter tasted off and I’m convinced that all-beef wieners do not a good corn dog make. It was tough and chewy not plump and tender like the proper weenies made from lots of different parts from lots of different animals. So, it was truly painful, after shelling out seven dollars for that corn “dud” and a coke, for me to toss it into the trash after a few disappointing  bites for the flies to fight over.  I’ll be more selective in my choice of corn dog stands next time.

But my week DID end on a high note.

grand falls casinoEven though it’s located practically within spitting distance from my house, I hadn’t been to the new Grand Falls Casino yet. Linda took the kids there a couple of times when they were home a few weeks ago but, since I don’t do much gambling, I wasn’t in any big rush to see the place. Saturday night, though, the casino was featuring one of my favorite area bands, Something New, opening for The Grass Roots free in the show lounge. Linda, who loves to play those goofy cartoonish penny machines for hours on end or until her 20 is gone..was pleasantly surprised when I suggested we head out there. First off, the place is as nice as any in Vegas and the lounge stage is very impressive. Trouble is, there’s just not enough room for people to sit down and enjoy the entertainment. They were standing five deep trying to get a glimpse of The Grass Roots as they performed their hit songs.

My cousin Grouse and his wife, Sandy, went to the casino with us. They enjoy the slots too and have devised their own system by which they switch back and forth on the same machine so they can play longer on a limited amount of cash. I just don’t like the slots..especially those new ones in which you play 100 lines and hope enough pirates or pandas pop up on the screen indicating you may have won a few pennies. I used to play Blackjack until a lady dealer in Flandreau cleaned me out on a regular basis and pretty much soured me on the game.

When the band went on break, there wasn’t a whole lot for me to do other than head for the other lounge where I could sit and enjoy an overpriced distilled beverage and watch people passing by;  not a totally unpleasant experience. But when the band fired up again I returned  to the show lounge only to find all the seats taken. The only place I could sit down and still see the entertainment was on the corner at the end of a line of poker machines. Since they don’t like you occupying a stool without playing, I stuffed in a twenty and began pushing buttons as slowly as possible hoping to make it last for me to hear a whole set of music. I was barely paying attention when I looked down to see the machine had dealt me the ace, queen, jack and ten of hearts. I saved them..then closed my eyes and tentatively pushed the draw button. I squinted a little bit expecting disappointment but to my astonishment, there it was; the KING OF HEARTS giving me a ROYAL FLUSH.

Just like this only mine was in hearts

Just like this only mine was in hearts and my bet was in quarters

The next thing I know, bells are ringing, lights are flashing and the machine is totaling up quarters faster than a mafia accountant.  FOUR THOUSAND CREDITS…at a quarter a credit that’s a thousand dollars isn’t it??  I’ve been having some vivid dreams lately and was fully expecting to wake up as soon as I took the win ticket out of the slot. Nope. Maybe when I take it to the cashier; surely I’ll awaken when she starts peeling off ten one hundred dollar bills onto the marble counter in front of me ..Nope. The joy of winning a grand at the Grand was nearly surpassed by the reaction of Linda and my cousins..stunned at the irony of my dumb luck playing at “their” game.

I know the casino believes it’ll get the money back from me eventually but I’m determined to resist temptation and use it to pay bills or buy groceries.

Oh, wait..I see The Buckinghams will be playing the show lounge next month; wonder if my favorite machine over in the corner  will still be there.


  1. Charlie Smith says:

    Beware of food prepared by persons you don’t know…especially when it contains dog in the name.

  2. grouse says:

    Hi Charlie….with the price of groceries going up, it would be prudent if we all kept our doggies on a very tight leash. And, I’m still shaking my head on Doug’s luck. It would be like me, a once every other year golfer who only plays under perfect conditions, and showed up only for the beer and cart ride, hitting a “hole in one” not once but twice in the same round. When I got home, I got down on my knees and asked God about the justice of it all. St. Peter said he’d get back to me because Linda was on the line asking the same thing.

  3. Hemmingsen says:

    I got turned around, not a new experience for a suspected descendent of Christopher Columbus, and wound up buying a corn dog at the same damned stand. It was lousy. And I suspect I was still paying for it the next day. Not only that; at those prices you should get a free Vikings or Twins game included for the price. It was great fun talking with Harvey, since we’re the only ones left who still remember each other.

  4. Cookie says:

    You and Linda should have been at the Corn Palace on August 27th. The Happy Together Tour was there and you could have seen the Grass Roots, the Buckinghams, the Association, the Turtles, plus the lead singer of Paul Revere & the Raiders. There were seats available!! What a fun, musical night for us baby-boomers.

  5. Michael says:

    Try the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul. I had the best corndog I’ve ever had there last week. The fairgrounds are actually made up of tree-lined streets–some of them cobblestone. Very pretty fairgrounds. Also saw Steely Dan at the grandstand. They put on a great show. I’m going back next year for sure.

  6. Paula B says:

    Congrats on the big win. Sure makes Larry’s $325 win on the ship seem tiny. We’re happy for you!!

  7. LeAnn says:

    I saw Linda there at the Grand Casino. I don’t know her but recognized her from all your pictures, she said you were there somewhere……..ya you were WINNING…..congratulations!!!!! Would you be my new best friend?..LOL

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