When you say Pat and Vanna, most people know exactly what you’re talking about – America’s Game®, Wheel of Fortune! And while Pat and Vanna weren’t there, Osceola’s Lakeside Casino was the location of the latest Wheelmobile stop for auditions for the popular T.V. Gameshow.
After months of negotiations and coordination by Lakeside’s Marketing Director, Liane Crawford-Smith, the tour made the announcement it had chosen the Osceola hot spot for April’s two-day audition event.
“It had been over 20 years since the show had held auditions in Central Iowa,” said Dave Monroe, Lakeside’s General Manager. “With the casino’s easy access from the metro by I-35 and Highway 34, producers expected a huge turnout. And a huge turnout is what they got.”
While the Casino staff was cleaning up from Clarke’s Prom just a few hours before, contestants started lining up for the first set of auditions as early as 6:00am. By the 1:00pm show time, there was a line out the Event Center doors, doubled up on the sidewalk and past the hotel and Casino entrances. Even parking became a challenge early in the day as cars were seen perched on the side of the road outside the entrances of Lakeside’s expansive lot.
Watch a brief video of some of the fun that was had during the Wheelmobile’s Latest Stop!
Stories of contestants traveling from as far away as Omaha and Minnesota to come to the auditions were common. One family, the Singletons from Elkader, Iowa heard of the event through promotions in northeastern Iowa and packed up their camper with 6 adults, friends and their children and made an entire weekend of the event.
“We really enjoy the show,” said Kathy Singleton. “We brought our neighbors and a camper down to make sure we didn’t miss the auditions.”
Over 4000 contestants went through the turnstiles on Sunday with another estimated 2000 on Monday. With that many people at the Lakeside facility, the casino floor was packed with waiting on slots and some table games. The new kitchen additions were put to a test with record numbers of meals prepared. And, in true Iowa fashion, the bar ran short of beer late on Sunday afternoon.
“Even rain and cold temperatures on Sunday didn’t keep the fans from waiting two hours to get in,” said Monroe. “Our team along with the local police and Sheriff’s departments really helped the event go off without a hitch.”
All in all, “Uncle Marty” the two-day event host, and the Wheelmobile team saw record numbers in attendance. Including three shows with on-stage auditions both Sunday and Monday, contestants were given every opportunity to show the Wheel of Fortune producers what Osceola and Iowa has to offer Hollywood. Hundreds of contestants made the stage and a few have received email notification that they’re being considered for the show.
The Wheelmobile has been making fans’ dreams come true for over two decades.
“Every year, Wheel of Fortune receives over 1 million inquiries from viewers who want to be contestants,” says Executive Producer Harry Friedman. “The Wheelmobile was created to give people all over the country an opportunity to realize that dream.”
In fact, most contestants who appear on Wheel of Fortune came out to Wheelmobile events in their hometowns.
“The team at Lakeside and the entire community can stand proud,” said Bill Trickey, Executive Director of the Clarke County Development Corporation. “By pulling off such a successful event, we’re hoping to be in consideration for more in the future.”
Contestants that made the stage event during the auditions as well as those that simply filled out the applications to get in were all considered for the show. Producers and show coordinators will be evaluating the audition tapes and information over the next weeks and will be sending notifications to those they’d be interested to see in Hollywood.