2007 - Ballroom
Hometown: Bancroft, IA
Bio: Under the ownership of Larry Nemmers of Bancroft, the Bancroft Ballroom was the site of rock and roll dances for nearly 30 years from 1965-1995.
The Bancroft Ballroom was built during the late 30’s or early 40’s as was originally located on Bancroft’s main street. It was owned by the American Legion McKinnon Post No. 377. At that time, it was called the Legion Ballroom. Ownership changed hands for a period of time but was sold back to the Legion Post and moved to its final location a half block north of the main street in 1960.
In the early 60’s, Gordon Finnern of Lake Park began renting the ballroom from the Legion and held teen dances on a regular basis; drawing teens from quite a large radius around Bancroft. Finnern brought in groups like The Trashmen and The Rivieras as well as local Northwest Iowa groups such as Dee Jay & the Runaways.
In 1965 the Legion had begun to take notice of the crowds that were flocking to the ballroom on Saturday nights and decided to take over its operation. Rather than run it themselves the Legionnaires sold it to their Legion commander Larry Nemmers on Jan. 21, 1966. He was the highest bidder with bids also coming in from the Six Fat Dutchmen and V.F.W. Post 7639. Nemmers operated it himself for the next 30 years.
Nemmers provided a great place for the rock bands of Iowa to perform. RockNRoll bands from across the state played at that ballroom to enthusiastic crowds. Although the town of Bancroft was small, it had a great location. There was no other ballroom within 40-50 miles providing live rock and roll music during the 60’s and 70’s. The closest were the Roof Garden at Arnolds Park, the Starline at Dakota City and the Surf in Clear Lake.
Most of the bands that played the Bancroft Ballroom were Iowa bands. Among the memories shared by band members is the recollection that the dressing room was underneath the stage and had 4 ft. high ceilings. The band members had to sit on a chair or bend over to dress. Nemmers was instrumental in promoting the local bands and providing them with a place to showcase their talents, something for which they will always be grateful.
Nemmers recently sold the ballroom to a local manufacturer and it no longer serves as a place to dance and listen to great music.
In appreciation for its 30 years of support and encouragement to Iowa bands, the Bancroft Ballroom joins the Hall of Fame Class of 2007.