LARCHWOOD—Odds are that Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort will be a busy place Saturday, June 12.
The casino, located northwest of Larchwood, will mark its 10th year in business in style that night with fireworks, cake and the giveaway of a recreational vehicle one lucky customer will take home.
As far as the decade milestone itself, general manager Sharon Haselhoff could barely believe that much time has passed since the casino opened its doors in 2011.
She has been involved with the facility since 2008, which is the year the Lyon County Board of Supervisors first heard the pitch for the establishment of a casino in the county. In September that year, county voters approved a referendum to allow gaming in the county.
The facility received its licensing in 2010 from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Later that year, ground started to be broken at the site and Haselhoff was named the casino’s general manager.
“It’s been quite a process and a lot of community support, a lot of local investors and a lot of employees,” Haselhoff said of the casino’s history.
It officially passed the 10-year mark Wednesday, June 9.
Grand Falls employs about 450-500 people depending on the time of year. Haselhoff credited the staff for the casino’s success over the years.
“Our employees are what sets us apart from any other resort or casino in the area,” she said.
The past year in particular was an unusual one for Grand Falls due to the coronavirus pandemic, which closed for about two and a half months in early 2020 before being able to reopen at half capacity in early June of that year.
In February, the governor fully lifted the statewide mask requirement for businesses and other public spaces, as well as capacity restrictions.
Grand Falls is still requiring employees to wear masks in the facility, and guests must also still wear face coverings while they are seated at gaming tables. Elsewhere on the casino floor, however, barriers that were set up for social distancing purposes have been taken down.
“It really is slowly starting to feel a little bit more like normal,” Haselhoff said.
Besides weathering the pandemic during the past year, the casino wrapped up an expansion project that added 66 more hotel rooms with an elevated corridor overlooking the outdoor swimming pool and pool deck. The expansion also increased the number of RV campsites available outside the facility to 27.
Weekends at the casino and resort are particularly busy, and Haselhoff said all the available hotel rooms and campsites were booked over Memorial Day weekend.
“Weekday business is pretty solid as well with events and golf outings,” she said. “It’s just constantly busy. It’s a lot of fun.”
A series of Saturday night live concerts is also planned throughout the summer, which will all take place at 8 p.m. at the outdoor lounge next to the pool. Tickets for the shows cost $20 and can be bought at the door or online in advance.
The first is set for June 19 when Jimmy Buffett tribute band, Bluffett, will perform. On July 10, AC/DC tribute band, Thunderstruck, will take the stage. Pop ROCKS, a band that covers a variety of popular music, will round out the concert series on Aug. 28.
“Those are all going to be fun,” Haselhoff said.