SAUK RAPIDS (WJON News) -- It's been gone for over 40 years now but many people still have fond memories of going to the Benton County Fairgrounds Ballroom.

Benton County Historical Society Executive Director Mary Ostby says the original building was built in 1917. A fire destroyed that building and two others in 1923. The fair board quickly built a new ballroom that same year and that is the one that stood until 1983.

It was generally called the "Pavillion" in the early days, the "Ballroom" in the '30s through the '50s, and the "Dance Hall" in the '60s and '70s.

Benton County Historical Society
Benton County Historical Society
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Ostby says it claimed to have enough seating for 400 people with a total capacity of 1,000 people. She says a large bar was one of its trademarks.

It was a 200 foot horseshoe-shaped bar and the ads they billed it as 'the world's largest bar'.

The building used to sit on the area of the fairgrounds near where the office is today.

It hosted wedding dances and showers but also large national acts with 10 to 12-piece bands.

Benton County Historical Society
Benton County Historical Society
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Dances were held on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays with instruction dances on Wednesdays.

Ostby says during the 100th anniversary of the Benton County Fair in 2013 they displayed two of the booths from the ballroom.

It exceeded all my expectations because even I did not understand the history of this building and how important it was to people.  For the whole week, those booths were never empty.

Ostby says she is looking for more photos and stories from the general public about the old ballroom/dance hall that used to be at the Benton County Fairgrounds.

Benton County Historical Society
Benton County Historical Society
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Once a month Ostby comes on the News @ Noon Show on WJON and she talks about the forgotten history of Benton County.

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