Bingo! Elks Club unveils remodel

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Friday night was the fruition of three years of dreaming for Frank Sadvar, Craig Elks Club's exalted ruler.

An avid bingo player, Sadvar's first goal when elected was to improve the club's bingo facilities.

This year he did when the club's 2,800-square-foot downstairs area was remodeled for $80,000 to provide bingo amenities as seen in big cities.

"I said, 'We're going to set this up so players enjoy what they're doing,'" Sadvar said.

The space offers separate smoking and nonsmoking areas, a concessions stand and a "family" room where youths can hang out while their parents play bingo.

The areas are served by four televisions that show the caller and the next number, and there are five flashboards so players can see what numbers have been called.

More than 130 people played bingo Friday night during grand opening ceremonies -- the only time turnout was higher was when the jackpot was $5,600 for a single blackout game.

"The remodel is terrific," said Vi Meineke, another avid bingo player. "There's plenty of room to move around, and it's bright and airy. You can see your cards, which you couldn't always before."

An average of 42 players spend Friday nights at the Elks Club, but Sadvar already has seen that number grow.

"Participation is up by 50 percent just because of the remodel," he said.

He thinks revenues from bingo will pay for the remodel in two years. After that, revenues go back to the community in the form of scholarships and grants to individuals and clubs in Northwest Colorado.

Bingo, Sadvar said, is a win-win situation for all. For $16, players get a night of fun and a chance to win some money. The Elks Club earns funds to return to the community.

It's a cycle.

"I always thank bingo players," Sadvar said. "I tell them it's not us (who contribute to community projects), but you. If not for them, none of this would happen."

When the remodel was just a dream, Sadvar said, "I want people to come in and say 'Wow.'" And he got his wish.

"Everyone loves it," Meineke said.

Sadvar said he's not done yet.

He wants to expand the concessions stand, which serves miniature pizzas, hotdogs, popcorn, corn dogs and drinks. He also wants to provide child care.

"We're not there yet, but we're more than half way," he said.

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