The Free Press, Mankato, MN


April 11, 2014

Big lineup for two-day Opry event at Ballroom

A few months ago, Rhapsody Music owner and affable Mankato musician Howard Mock approached Tania Cordes with a big idea.

Cordes, owner of the Kato Ballroom since last August of 2013, has proven she’s open to them.

Since assuming ownership, she’s renovated the Ballroom’s bar and decor, and has moved to attract new audiences while also preserving the character and tradition of the historic venue. In addition to maintaining the long-running “Bandwagon” TV show — the Ballroom is hosting regular polka nights on the first Monday of every month — she is hosting a locally produced teen dance series beginning May 16.

But, Mock’s idea was really big. Big enough that the Mankato Opry Jamboree requires two days, a house band and more than a dozen guest performers.

“He even convinced me to do a dinner beforehand,” Cordes said. “I’m trying to figure out a really good biscuit recipe.”

The event is styled after shows at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and all proceeds will benefit the Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota.

The band is comprised of Mock (bass), Gary Pfeifer (banjo/mandolin), Crista Bohlman (fiddle/guitar), Sheldon Brandt (pedal steel/guitar), Jason Olson (lead guitar), Keith Eckstein (drums) and Jim Kozan (piano/harmonica).

Among the guest performers are Brenda Kopischke and Lynda Kiesler of Powerhouse, 10-year-old Mara Kolars, area music and Suzuki instructor Crista Bohlman and Chad Pfeifer, who moved to Nashville last year and recently recorded his debut EP.

The emcees are Paul Pfennig and Ed Stock.

In addition to the music — guest performers have the stage from 7-9:30 p.m. while the band provides music for dancing from 10 p.m. to midnight — the Kato Ballroom is hosting a country-style buffet beginning at 5 p.m. (the shows today and Saturday are ostensibly the same).

Tanner Kent

If You Go What Mankato Opry Jamboree When Today and Saturday. Buffet begins at 5 p.m. and doors open to show-only patrons at 5:30 p.m. Music begins at 7 p.m. and open dancing at 10 p.m. Tickets $20, no reserved seating. Buffet is an additional $12.50. More Visit

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