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Indian Crossing Casino set to reopen May 23

The Waupaca venue, which is under new ownership, recently underwent months of renovations

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May 13, 2024

WAUPACA – It’s been a long wait, but the Indian Crossing Casino (ICC) in Waupaca is set to reopen under new ownership May 23.

Located on Columbia Lake on the Chain O’ Lakes, ICC, which first opened in July 1925, is a dining and entertainment venue that has hosted the likes of The Beach Boys, Cheap Trick, Eddie Money, LeAnn Rimes, Uncle Cracker, The BoDeans and the Everly Brothers.

Beth Nash, marketing and public relations director for ICC, said it also hosts weddings, corporate events and private parties.

“We’ve had some awesome events in the past, and we will continue that going forward,” she said. “The BoDeans will return July 19, Edwin McCain will perform Aug. 11 and Uncle Kracker will return Sept. 6. Those are probably the biggest three acts for this year. We also have some regional acts coming who are popular – you can check our website for all the events. BoDeans tickets are selling fast because they are a Wisconsin group.”

Despite its name – Indian Crossing Casino – Nash said there is no gambling at the venue.

The word “casino,” she said, comes from the Italian language meaning a gathering place.

“It was named Indian Crossing Casino because it was an entertainment venue – there weren’t even gambling casinos at that time,” she said. “It might be a bit confusing to people who aren’t familiar with what it is, who it is and where we are. The name has been the same through and through.”

ICC also does not have rooms to stay in overnight, Nash said.

“There are hotels in Waupaca and a ton of bed and breakfasts on the lake – you can rent cottages of all different sizes,” she said. “A lot of people do that.”

Nash said the ICC team has received a lot of community excitement in regard to the venue’s reopening.

“The casino is an iconic place that holds a special place in people’s hearts – the new owners’ hearts are in this,” she said. “It’s part of summer in Waupaca – it’s not summer without the casino on the Chain O’ Lakes.” 

New ownership

Currently under new ownership with Jim and Lisa Pekar, Thad and Amy Marcom and Michael Solberg, who took over last December, Nash said the five co-owners are committed to preserving a piece of history while maintaining the high standards of quality, service and atmosphere ICC has long been known for.

“When you walk into ICC, it looks like an entertainment venue,” she said. “There’s a huge stage and the original wood floors we had refinished. We’ve retained the historic aspect of the venue – ‘she’ just needed a facelift … ‘she’s’ going to be 100 years old next year.” 

Other updates

Besides refinishing the original hardwood floors, Nash said other updates were completed to give ICC “more of a resort feel to it.”

“We’ve updated the bathrooms and created a new lady’s room – it’s in a more convenient location,” she said. “We’ll be adding an area for a merchandise store… that has not been completed yet, but that will be coming.”

Nash said the bar has also been revamped.

“The bar is no longer stuck in a corner and will be easier to use – it’s a wrap-around setup,” she said. “Customers and servers can now access the bar from three sides. We’ve also increased the amount of people we can serve and the views are better – we’ve created a more open-water view for all of our guests.”

The renovations, Nash said, don’t stop there.

“Outside, there was this old brown house – we’ve painted it white,” she said. “The brown house is a covered area… we removed two of the walls on the house, and there will be a bar underneath with seating inside – all of that will come with water views. It has a beautiful grass area on the water, so we flattened the area, put new grass in, and we’ll have outdoor seating.”

Before the most recent renovations, Nash said there was only room for about seven boats to dock at ICC – not a great use of the on-the-water location.

“We now have more than 20 boat slips for patrons to come by water,” she said. “Patrons can also order food from the boat. I think we’ve taken advantage of the location being on the water.”

Nash said the fact that Thad and Amy Marcom are also the co-owners of Strongwood – a construction, concrete, design, turf, home automation and plumbing company located in Waupaca – was helpful during construction.

“That part in getting the casino ready has been great,” she said.

The menu, Nash said, has also been revamped.

“We are working with a lot of local and state providers for our food,” she said. “The Wisconsin Food Hub (Cooperative) is located in Waupaca and is connected to Turners Fresh Market (& Greenhouse). All of our produce will be coming from the Wisconsin Food Hub. Whitetail (Valley Dairy and) Beef will also be utilized.” 

A long time coming

Renovations on the property, Nash said, were delayed a little bit due a previously scheduled wedding event in February – “but that was just fine.”

“The co-owners couldn’t start with things before that wedding because it needed to be okay for the bride and groom,” she said. “They weren’t going to cancel on the couple two months before their wedding – they wanted to keep the commitment to them. The big parts of the construction and renovations took place after the wedding.”

Typically in the past the casino only stayed open during the summer months, but that, too, Nash said, will change.

“They’d (previously) open Mother’s Day weekend and close sometime in September – it was a seasonal business,” she said. “We are now going to run things year-round, seven days a week. There might be some time off in there, too. The owners are not quite sure about that yet.” 

A little history

According to its website (, ICC opened July 3, 1925 – built and opened by William R. Arnold of Chicago and managed by Francis Steele.

Arnold and Steele created the casino with a vision of establishing a dance hall that would attract local and national bands.

Arnold sold the casino in the 1930s to John Martin.

John’s son, Al Martin, also became a partner in 1937.

The casino could schedule big-name bands when they were on the road traveling between Minneapolis and Chicago.

Bands that played at the casino in the 1930s and 1940s included Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong, Gypsy Rose Lee, Les Brown, Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton.

In the 1950s, the casino hosted such bands as Woody Herman, Tommy Dorsey and the Dukes of Dixieland.

In the 1960s, the Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, Bobby Vinton, Herman’s Hermits and the Beach Boys performed.

More information can be found on ICC’s Facebook page. 

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