Hard Rock entertainment crew

Some of the entertainment crew on the Anthem stage at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City.

Looking at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sioux City, it is not hard to tell why this venue has garnered three wins in the entertainment category of the 2019 Siouxland’s Choice Awards.

When a venue in a town the size of Sioux City is bringing in names like Post Malone, Pit Bull, Incubus, Kesha, The Offspring, 311 (let’s face it, the list just keeps going), it deserves top place in these awards. This year the Hard Rock took first in "‘best place to dance" (Anthem), "casino" (Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City) and "entertainment/sports venue" (Battery Park).

The Weekender sat down with Missy Rarrat, vibe manager, and Mike Kessel, entertainment coordinator, to reflect on the wins and the last season.

We all know that the entertainment you put on this past year has been top-notch. To what specifically do you credit your win?

Rarrat: “The biggest thing I would like everyone to know about Hard Rock is the team itself. There is never going to be just one of us that can take credit for any show here. It takes lots of people…from the ushers to the stagehands to the entertainment coordinators to the production team…not one of us can do it by ourselves.”

How do you expect to top last year’s entertainment line-up this year?

Rarrat: “This year is going to be a little bit different than we’ve done in the past. We are under new management, we are finding a new normal and we are really looking forward to having a successful summer this year. I don’t want to compare it to the summers of the past because what we are doing is onward and upward. We hope the city and the fans receive it well.”

As you said, there have been changes in the management. How are you brushing off the dust and moving forward? (Editor’s note: Rarrat mentions the fact that this article’s author helped the Hard Rock entertainment team through its first concerts.)

Rarrat: “I always think back to you and me; do you remember that first summer when you were out in the yard? This is our fifth anniversary of outdoor concerts. I remember you being out there with me in the beginning; you had your radio and I said, ‘Ari, what are we going to do with this mud?’ I look at it like this; if we could make it through that weekend, any challenges or changes thrown our way we can overcome and we’ve proven that time and time again. I hope that the changes are well-received. Maybe the shows won’t be as big as Post Malone, but the hearts and the hard work that goes into these concerts is still there. Battery Park was nominated for 2018 Amphitheatre of the Year and, out of all the casino venues in the United States, we won. For us to take a parking lot in Sioux City, Iowa, and make that No. 1, that says a lot about our team as a whole. We are a force to be reckoned with and we will stay strong.”

Kessel: “Every year is different. There are always new challenges; new highs, new lows. This year is no different. We still have the same core group of people and we still have the passion. It is a passion industry, and that’s what matters.”

What does winning these awards mean to you knowing this was a community vote?

Rarrat: “It makes us extremely proud. The biggest goal for all of us in this team is to make Sioux City a wanted stop on all the major national act tours. Also we want to be a place for people in the local scene to come and play and open for national acts. The Marquee is such a wonderful place…Marty’s…I love what they do for the local scene, but it is nice for some of those local acts to get an opportunity to play with some of the bigger names in here. It’s a wonderful thing.”

Kessel: “It’s hard to please everyone doing what we do, but we try our hardest. Having that kind of reception after a year of hard work is super rewarding.”

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