Reprinted from the Tri-County News Aug. 7, 1986
The Playland Ballroom was opened in September, 1949, by Al and Phyllis Oberg, and Al’s brother Harold Callander, who after a short period of time, sold out to Al and Phyllis. On a Saturday night in September, the Playland, named by Phyllis, opened its doors for dancing. That first dance was not a success, until the owners were residents of Kimball for six months at which time the city issued them a beer license. Then the dancing went over well. Their first dance at that time, as Phyllis recalls, was the wedding dance for Alma and Elmer Johnson. They sold over 700 tickets that night. From then on, Saturday night dancing at Playland was the place to go in Kimball.
Bands such as “The Six Fat Dutchmen,” “Bobby Roberts,” and “Little Willie” were booked often along with many others.
The Obergs also had roller skating from the very beginning. Skating nights were Wednesdays and Sundays, with Sunday afternoons for children and “beginners,” Harold Tenney was their skate manager and also one of the bartenders. Some of the other employees were: Agnes and Bob Steichen, Victor Pramann, Ann Curtis, Leonard Unterberger, Irvin Jensen, Herb Shoeuers and many others.
In March of 1957, Harold and Dorothy Schmitz purchased the ballroom and continued with roller skating and dances. When rock’n roll was started, roller skating was discontinued, at about the same time the ballroom was remodeled and a new addition was added. During the 25 years that the Harold Schmitzes operated the ballroom, many national bands appeared there – among them were: “Sonny James,” “Tommy James & the Shondells,” and the “Grass Roots.” “True Don Blue,” “Straight Up,” “Jesse Brady,” “Rocking Hollywoods,” and “Father Capoun,” were also big hits (plus many more.) Many area people have been employed at the Playland. Among those were Gene and Loretta Stenger who worked for the Harold Schmitzes for about 24 years. Also, all five of the Schmitz children did various jobs there as they were growing up. For two years, 1979-1980, son Ron helped manage the ballroom until he re-enlisted in the Air Force. Many joyous celbrations have occurred at the ballroom during the 25 years that Harold and Dorothy owned the Playland that are too numerous to mention, but shall never be forgotten by them.
In 1982, Dennis and Janyce Schmitz purchased the Playland.During the spring of 1983, a new kitchen was added to the ballroom and with the help of Loretta Stenger, head cook, and Dorothy Schmitz, assistant cook, the first wedding dinner was served on April 23, for Lori Pusc and Jim Ernest. Since that day, many banquets for weddings, anniversaries, reunions, business meetings, and clubs have been served. The dances continue on Saturday nights for weddings, anniversaries, and other celebrations. Rock dances are scheduled mainly on holidays and occasionally on Friday and Sunday nights. Other entertainment and auctions are booked every now and then to ensure something for everyone. For 35 years, the Playland Ballroom has been serving Kimball and the surrounding area, and it is our fervent hope that the tradition will be kept alive for many years to come.
We thank everyone for their support of the Kimball Area Historical Society and welcome a new year of membership. We are happy to research your requests for Kimball area history. For family research, information, or membership, please contact the society at PO Box 55, Kimball MN 55353, or by telephone at (320) 398-5743. Volunteers are also needed to provide the manpower to keep our society active. Call and come join us.