Newsroom

GOING APE, HAVING A BALL, & GIVING BLOOD AT ELDORA BALLROOM

June 21, 2019

NEW WESTON, Ohio - After more than six decades of dance nights, wedding celebrations, and even some monkey business on New Year's Eve, the Eldora Ballroom has seen it all.  When donors gathered June 20 for the Eldora Ballroom Blood Drive it was for the annual opportunity to help others and dust off some favorite memories.

The dim light in the Eldora Ballroom is always far removed from the motion and mayhem of the summer night dirt track racing.  But all donors were entered in the drawings for grand prize tickets to the 36th annual Kings Royal on July 20, plus tickets to the Baltes Classic and 4-Crown Nationals in September.

Eldora Speedway donates the tickets to help boost the blood supply before the challenging July 4th holiday period.  The prizes helped Community Blood Center total 34 donors and 31 donations for 115 percent of collection goal.

Eldora founder Earl Baltes was a prominent area band leader and promoter who opened the ballroom two years before launching the Eldora Speedway in 1954.

"My mom and dad got married and had their reception here in this building," said Versailles donor Larry Wagner. "Earl was digging the hole for the track."

Larry grew up watching races at Eldora and continued the tradition with his own sons. "We'd come out once or twice a summer, take a Saturday night with the wife and kids, and always sat in Turn One."

Donating is also a family tradition. Larry made his 106th lifetime donation at the blood drive and said he was inspired to give blood by his dad, a long-time donor at St. Denis Catholic Church.

St. Henry donor Nancy Leugers made her milestone 20th donation at the ballroom blood drive. Her parents once farmed the land that is now part of Eldora. She can remember when Earl Baltes was still running the Speedway and she could earn money parking cars on race nights and cleaning up the parking lot on Sundays. 

But her best memories are of the Ballroom and the Earl's flare for showmanship.

"When I was young, Earl had us dress up as apes at the New Year's Eve party," Nancy said. "We'd come walking out at midnight and go around the Ballroom. There was no explanation after that!  I don't know if he even payed us - we just had a ball!"