Emmetsburg – Wild Rose Casino and Resort opened its doors for the first time Sunday to friends and family of the owners and their employees.
The grand public openings for the casino are scheduled for June 30 and July 1, a little more than one year after the Iowa Gaming Commission awarded Palo Alto County a license to build the facility.
Friends and family anxiously waited to enter the casino to be among the first to try out the slot machines and game tables.
Casino supporters anticipated seeing growth in their community.
„We hope it to be a good economic boost to Emmetsburg and Palo Alto County,“ said Kathy Fahy, marketing manager. „We also would like to bring more employment and to be a good community partner.“
Along with the 340 employees that the casino brought in, there is a Super 8 being built, a new gas station and a McDonald’s coming to Emmetsburg in response to the new gaming facility.
In addition to the employment benefits the casino will bring, 6 percent of casino profits will go back to the community to be used for nonprofit organizations, educational growth and economic development.
Wild Rose Casino and Resort is one of the premier gaming facilities in the Midwest, according to casino officials. The casino features 28,000 square feet of gambling luxuries that include 550 slot machines, 16 game tables, an Irish Pub, a full buffet, a 71-room hotel, a 68-spot RV park and a convention center.
„Dublin Ireland is the sister city to Emmetsburg,“ Fahy said. „So with the Irish pub and restaurant, we wanted to stick with Irish traditions. We used warm, rich woodwork, and we will feature live entertainment every Friday and Saturday night.“
Fahy said the casino plans to have four or five national concerts, and every weekend it will feature local and regional entertainment.
One upcoming event will feature Eddie Money on June 30. This rock and roll icon will sing hits like “Two Tickets to Paradise”and “Walk on Water.“ Then on July 1 Shannon Brown and Phil Vassar will perform. Vassar’s hit songs include „Just Another Day in Paradise,“ and „My Nest Thirty Years.“
„We’ve created a Las Vegas environment on a smaller scale,“ said Kevin Preston, gaming operations manager. „The technology, design and architecture that we have are second to none.“
The unofficial opening on Memorial Day weekend of the Wild Rose Casino and Resort was weeks ahead of schedule from the original opening date, which was set for July 1.
This accomplishment would not have been possible with out a lot of hard work, according to Don Walker, facility manager. He added that because they were ahead of schedule, officials decided to move the opening day up.
„The last two weeks we did the majority of finishing work,” Walker said. “We’ve been working 12, 14, 16-hour days just to get finished.“
Emmetsburg Mayor Myrna Heddinger said she believes the casino will bring nothing but positive things to the economy.
The mood in Palo Alto County is full of excitement and anticipation while the days near for the grand opening of the casino.
„To Mr. (Gary) Kirke and Dr. (Michael) Richards we say thank you for the vision, investment, and for keeping your word to make this an Iowa project,“ said Rep. Marcella Frevert, D-Emmetsburg. Kirke and Richards, founders of Wild Rose Entertainment, own gaming resorts and related businesses.
„The essence of Wild Rose has stimulated the local economy and provided excitement in this area that is long overdue,“ Frevert said.