Bowlmor offers fun for all

ABOVE: Louis Goerndt, 9, throws a ball Friday afternoon during Community Education and Recreation’s Preps Bowling at the Bowlmor in Fairmont. CER is one group of many that utilizes the bowling alley in Fairmont.

FAIRMONT– The long and cold winter months are also the busy season for Bowlmor Lanes in Fairmont. This season has brought in scores of people, which has been a welcome event following a slow two years coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Bowlmor is owned by Doug Pederson, who took it over from his parents in the summer of 2020. The Bowlmor has been in the Pederson family since 1980.

Pederson shared that over the past summer, a number of cosmetic changes were made and features were added to the 20-lane recreation center.

Ten high top tables were added, one for every two lanes. A new feature was also added that allows bumpers to automatically go up or down in a single lane so an entire family, or people of different skill levels, can bowl together. This was added to the first 10 lanes though Pederson hopes to add it to the other 10 lanes in the future.

Some new key lockers were also added and other lockers were moved around to provide more space in the back corner of the bowling alley to accommodate for parties and other gatherings. The space is needed as the Bowlmor remains a popular destination for groups.

In addition to league, which takes place nightly Monday through Friday, birthday parties come in regularly. Pederson said for every eight birthday parties they have, they donate one to a family that is nominated by Kinship of Martin County.

Several service clubs, like Rotary, come in to bowl and other businesses will hold holiday parties or get togethers at the Bowlmor.

“A lot of school groups come in,” said Pederson.

Classes from schools all across Martin County, both private and public, come in to bowl, especially in the winter months. The Bowlmor will open earlier in the day to accommodate for these classes.

Fairmont Community Education and Recreation has also partnered with the Bowlmor for Preps Bowling. The 11 week program is taking place now on Fridays after school. Seventeen youth in grades 4 through 6 come in to bowl for that.

The Arc Southwest is another consistent organization that has come in to bowl for many years. There are a few teams that bowl every Wednesday and on Fridays about 10 teams, made up of over 40 people, bowl.

Another new thing at the Bowlmor is its food menu. Pederson said this is in part due to

the fact that they have a new food supplier, Northern Lights.

“We’ve been adding items or improving the quality,” Pederson said.

They got new hamburgers patties and have come up with several kinds of speciality burgers, including a steakhouse burger, kingpin burger, Diablo burger and pizza burger. Other new items include build-your-own wrap, beer battered cod, a spicy chicken sandwich and a number of appetizers.

“In my opinion, the best thing is the pizza. We have upgraded crusts,” Pederson said.

He explained that when ordering a pizza, people now have the option of getting thick or thin crust. This choice was just added in the last few weeks. Staff at the Bowlmor then puts on their own toppings, which there are plenty to choose from.

Of course the Bowlmor offers more than just bowling. There’s also the Tee Box, a golf simulator that’s open whenever the Bowlmor is open. There is also a bar, unofficially called the 21st lane, which recently had a TV put in. The recreation center also has a TouchTunes juke box and an assortment of arcade games including a crane game, which Pederson said is popular.

On the weekends, people can look forward to cosmic bowling, which takes place beginning at 8 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday nights. Karaoke also takes place once a month on Friday night.

Pederson shared that, especially in Minnesota, winter is the time to bowl. The Bowlmor has already had a busy first few months of winter. Pederson pointed out that they have many people from outside of Fairmont come in.

“We draw from the surrounding communities. We get people from Blue Earth, Jackson, Armstrong… a lot of people from the small towns in northern Iowa come up here,” Pederson said.

The Bowlmor is the only bowling alley in Martin County, though there’s still one in Faribault county in Winnebago. Pederson said if someone wants to bowl somewhere bigger than what Fairmont has, they’d have to go to either Sioux Falls or Austin.

Speaking of their goal, Pederson said, “We want to be an entertainment center. It’s a way to have fun and socialize.”

He noted that the bowling industry has changed. While leagues used to be dominant, he said there are fewer people in them now and that what they call ‘open bowling,’ when regular people come in to bowl, is where they get the majority of their business from.

They have bowlers from about age 3, thanks to ramps that assist children roll the ball, up to age 80 plus, making it truly an activity for everyone. Still, the Bowlmor plans to work on engaging more people.

“We don’t have great engagement with the elderly in Fairmont… we’re thinking of putting on a senior citizens social club… we have plans to work with senior living centers in the summer months,” Pederson said.


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