It is hard to believe the Weekender is entering its 20th volume. At the time of the first publication I was 13 years old, so it is hard for me to think of Sioux City without its premier entertainment publication.
The previous 19 years have seen many changes in the world, in Sioux City and in the Weekender, itself.
In its infancy, the Weekender was a way to bridge the gap and direct readers to www.siouxland.net. The Weekender has, over the years, become a staple publication and alternative voice for the arts, entertainment, food and special interests in Sioux City and its surrounding areas. It has captured the attention of people who otherwise might not pick up the Sioux City Journal. In this regard, readers intentionally sought out the weekly magazine on the shelves in stores and in the standalone boxes on the streets.
“The Weekender was never delivered,” said Harlan Crouch (in the 2009 anniversary issue), the deceased former president of Williams & Co. and publisher of the Weekender from 1999 to 2004. “People had to make a conscious effort to pick one up. Once they did, they actually read what was in it. Nobody wrapped their garbage in the Weekender.”
At the beginning, the Weekender considered the Sioux City Journal a competitor for both advertisement and content. If there was a big-name artist or performer coming to Sioux City, they would probably have the bigger publication (the Journal) cover the story; however the Journal bought the Weekender in 2004, eliminating the need for competition between the publications. This change also meant a location change.
Through the years, entertainment options have changed drastically in Sioux City. When the Weekender kicked off, there were not as many large venues touting big-name entertainment as there are today.
“Two important things happened that helped the Weekender immensely,” said Thomas Ritchie (in the 2009 anniversary issue), managing editor from 2000 to 2004. “The Orpheum Theatre opened and so did the Tyson Events Center.”
Since then, WinnaVegas, BlackBird Bend and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino moved into town and have been offering a smorgasbord of different events and concerts, almost on a weekly basis, adding to the mix.
“There are more entertainment options out there,” said Earl Horlyk, staff writer from 2002 to the present. “There are more and more bars offering live music and the entertainment climate has changed for the better. I think the Weekender has stayed on the cutting edge in terms of keeping up with all the different types of acts coming to town and our organic local artists.”
Along with the changes in the entertainment climate, the Weekender has also gone through many changes in style and character.
“It’s changed so much because of the personalities involved in the making of the paper,” said Horlyk. “We’ve gone from a publication which was really edgy to something that is a bit more light-hearted than it was in the early days. Also, these days we are always trying to interact with our audience online, providing them more content such as photo galleries. Perhaps that should be a goal for year 20, providing even more content.”
“It (the Weekender) has held true to its original intent which was to provide content to the community and bring arts and entertainment to everyone,” said Amy Hynds, contributor from 1999 to the present. “I think it has held that through the years. It has gotten smaller staff-wise, but I think the content is still there and it is still a viable publication.”
Another huge change that has happened, especially during the last decade, is the inclusion of and immersion into social media, which has become a life-sustaining platform to reach an even wider audience base.
“It (social media) has expanded the audience,” said Hynds. “It has helped make that niche publication more specialized. There are certain people who just want the Weekender content, so they can get it by picking it up on the stands or by following us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.”
As the Weekender keeps rolling with the changes, we look to the future and hopefully another 20 years of providing Siouxland with all of its entertainment needs.