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Surf Ballroom director says Historic Designation is important for future

Clear Lake, IA – The executive director of the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake says she is thrilled with the announcement late last week that the facility has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. The ballroom is best known for hosting the last concert of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson in February 1959 before their fatal plane crash north of Clear Lake.

Laurie Lietz says she and the nonprofit North Iowa Cultural Center and Museum which operated the ballroom were confident the U-S Department of the Interior would give the designation.

Lietz says the designation allows the Surf to have a resource available as they move forward with any capital improvement or renovation projects.

Officials noted the Surf is the most well-preserved venue remaining from the 1959 Winter Dance Party Tour. Lietz says it shows the dedication of preserving the ballroom, which was purchased and restored by the Dean Snyder family in the mid-1990s.

She says the designation is positive news during a time when the ballroom hasn’t been able to host many events due to the pandemic — including this year’s Winter Dance Party.

It’s Iowa’s 27th National Historic Landmark. In 2009, the Surf Ballroom was designated as a historic landmark by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

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