When you first think of Prairie Meadows, your mind probably fills with images of colorful slot machines blinking and chirping; poker-faced card players circled around a vest-clad dealer; a jockey riding a surging quarter horse; or a ball bouncing around a spinning roulette wheel. And while Prairie Meadows is one of central Iowa’s favorite places to have fun, its impact on the communities around the casino, racetrack and hotel extends far beyond its physical footprint in Altoona. As Prairie Meadows approached its 30-year anniversary, their executive team approached Trilix to create a short video showcasing its history and community impact. You can bet we were all-in.
Prairie Meadows opened in 1989 with the goal of lessening the burden of government by promoting economic development, jobs, agriculture and tourism. As a licensed 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, Prairie Meadows supports a broad range of nonprofit proposals and projects through their Community Betterment Grant Program, Scholarship Program and Legacy Grant Program. In its 30 years of operation, Prairie Meadows has contributed $1.8 billion back to the people of Iowa, more than $765 million of which has stayed in local communities.
Videographers Chad Adams and James Drescher and Video Producer/Editor Nathan McNurlen set out to create an energetic, cinematic celebration of Prairie Meadows’ historical roots, its present and the ways it has played an important role in central Iowa since opening in 1989. As our video team contemplated how to best tell the story of such an entrenched fixture in the region’s entertainment and economic landscape, they conducted extensive research that helped inform the video’s documentary-style approach.
Our video team identified key people of influence and pivotal moments in Prairie Meadows’ history, interviewing the figures who helped conceive of the concept of Prairie Meadows and played leading roles in bringing it to life. They also delved into archives at the State Historical Society to find microfilms, newscast footage and newspaper clippings of significant dates, like when Prairie Meadows paid off its more than $80 million mortgage from Polk County. These artifacts provide another layer of texture to the Prairie Meadows story, particularly since some are shown in the video as they would have been consumed at the time — retro TV news clips are displayed playing on vintage TVs, one of which includes a built-in VCR and the other of which is the same exact model first used to simulcast horse races at Prairie Meadows. Nathan said showing the clips on vintage TVs was, “a way of contextualizing these moments, of giving the viewer a perspective on how much has changed in our lives and in the community while Prairie Meadows has been around.”
But this video is about more than just the past. Our video team also traveled throughout Polk County to capture footage of sites where contributions from Prairie Meadows make a particularly visible and widely-felt impact — Blank Park Zoo, Grand View University, Wells Fargo Arena, HyVee Hall and many more.
“I loved working on this project,” said Chad. “I’ve always enjoyed having fun at Prairie Meadows, but making this video drove home the incredible impact Prairie Meadows has on the community. James and I were talking about all the things Prairie Meadows has done around Des Moines and the surrounding communities, and we realized these projects are a huge part of why we came back to live here. The community made an investment in itself with Prairie Meadows in 1989, and the dividends that investment continues to pay are why central Iowa is an attractive place to live. It was a fantastic story to tell, and video was the right medium to tell it.”