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Recalling the heyday of Balmoral Pavilion

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opinion Perham, 56573

Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

Many local baby boomers who grew up in the 1950s and '60s fondly recall some fun nights at the Balmoral Pavilion on the southeast side of Otter Tail Lake.

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The late Ed and Bette Prescher owned the Balmoral Pavilion, one of the most famous dance halls in west central Minnesota. They owned Balmoral from 1948 to 1972.

Baby boomers, and those older remember when Balmoral was the summertime hotspot for dancing on a Saturday evening.

The renowned rock band Paul Revere and the Raiders performed at Balmoral in the mid-'60s. Other performers at the dance pavilion included the Byrds, who recorded "Mr. Tambourine Man" in 1965.

Older generations, prior to Balmoral being owned by the Preschers, recall the Lawrence Welk Band performing there.

The Preschers also operated Balmoral Resort, which consisted of 17 cottages. They sold the resort in 1982, which eventually made way for condominiums. In 2001, Ed and Bette closed their trailer park.

Fire destroyed the Balmoral Pavilion in 1976, four years after the Preschers relinquished ownership. In their latter years, the Preschers continued to live at Otter Tail Lake in the summer and headed south for the winter.

"We had the best customers in the world," said Bette during an interview a few years ago, shortly before her death. "Kids really packed the pavilion for dancing on Saturday evenings and many of them also enjoyed roller skating at the pavilion on Friday evenings."

Tom Gedde, a neighbor of the Preschers at Otter Tail Lake, is a 1963 graduate of Fergus Falls High School who spent time at the Balmoral Pavilion with his teenage friends in the 1960s.

"It was a fun place back then," said Gedde, "and in recent years it was a pleasure getting to know Bette and Ed, two very friendly people."

Bingo was popular with many tourists, especially retirees, on Thursday evenings at the pavilion in the '50s and '60s. The resort itself was open for business from the start of fishing in May all the way through Labor Day.

Most of the Balmoral Pavilion memorabilia is now with Ed and Bette's children, Cheri and Gay, who later moved to Minneapolis and Chicago. The daughters have been summer residents at the Balmoral property and are winter residents of Minneapolis and Phoenix.

"Balmoral was very special to us while we were growing up," said daughter Cheri. "It's fun to reminisce with people."

The Preschers came to Otter Tail Lake from Omaha, Neb., where Ed had worked as a tool and die maker. A Balmoral marker is in place at the former site of the pavilion along Highway 78, near the Balmoral Golf Course.

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