Kato Entertainment Center

Written by Lon A. Gault in his 1988 book entitled Ballroom Echoes.

As of 1988, Minnesota had more active ballrooms than any other state. One of them from the big band era is still standing, but far less active than during that time is the Kato. This ballroom had its finest moments hosting most of the famous bands over three decades ago. When Mr. Herb Martinka sold it in 1982 to Cordes, Cordes, and Sell he reminisced about his 36 years of ownership and management of the Kato. For many of those years he kept busy four nights a week with regular scheduled dances on Fridays and Saturdays along with wedding and special dances on Mondays and Tuesday. He usually could count on having 1,000 or more patrons every night. On special occasions when the bands of Glenn Miller, the Dorseys, Sammy Kaye or Lawrence Welk were booked, he could draw 2,000 customers. With a good clientele, it proved feasible to rebuild the Kato after a fire destroyed it in the early ’50s.

One entering the Kato in the ’80s would notice the 6,500 square-foot dance floor shortly after leaving the main lobby. Then the bandstand close to the front of the ballroom and tables and chairs for resting patrons on three sides of the floor. In addition, several bars conveniently located on the dance floor’s perimeter would be seen.

The largest crowd of the last five years (September 1983) turned out to hear the Johnny Holm show. Other attractions included Bobby Vee and Company, and the White Sidewalls. Emphasis has shifted from dancing to various activities like dart and pool tournaments, ’50s parties, and catering banquets. Yet, music and dancing are not forgotten.