The owner of a banquet hall in northeast Iowa’s Fayette County says “adult entertainment” may be his best option to make money. The Echo Valley Banquet and Recreation Center in West Union is the setting for wedding receptions, banquets and auctions, but for six weeks, it’s been hosting topless dancers.
Owner Lee Hansmeier, who’s 67, says he tried to make money for 12 years with an adjoining dirt auto racing track, but it closed two years ago. “Then the economy hit and it’s just been downhill ever since,” Hansmeier says. “Four wedding dances a month don’t cut it.”
Starting on April 1, he began offering as many as five topless female dancers on Friday nights. Fayette County leaders ruled Hansmeier -can- operate this type of business, though even he admits it’s not something he’s thrilled to be offering.
“If I can’t make some money doing this, which honestly I’m not 100-percent in favor of doing, but it’s the only thing that’s kind of lucrative right now, I won’t be able to hang onto the place,” Hansmeier says.
He says a good night for racing would bring in about $8,000 or more in gate fees. A good night from the strip club brings in about $500 in cover charges. It’s quite a drop and one he hopes won’t be permanent.
“I’m sure there’s people unhappy with me,” Hansmeier says, “but I guess you’ve gotta’ do what you gotta’ do to try to survive.” He says he hopes to bring racing back to Echo Valley, but until then, he’ll keep offering the dancing on weekends to try and make a few bucks.
By Chris Earl, KCRG, Cedar Rapids