Annual Miners Ball Held on Campus


Sara Koeller Photo

The days of classical balls are often thought to be behind us. In Platteville, however, people get the chance once a year to bring out their old ballgowns and dust off their dancing shoes in honor of one of the longest-standing industries in our region. The Mining and Rollo Jamison Museum brings elegance to fundraising, while keeping alive the traditions of the past.

The Mining and Rollo Jamison Museum began as two separate entities: the Rollo Jamison Museum in Beestown, WI, and the Mining Museum in Platteville, WI. The Mining Museum was built on the remains of Wisconsin’s oldest extant public-school building, the Rock School. In setting up the museum the staff found an abandoned mine in their own backyard. The Bevan’s mine was excavated and added to the Mining Museum that was already on the property.

The Rollo Jamison Museum, meanwhile, was a private collection started by a Driftless Area native whose dream was to own and run a museum. He collected history from all over the region, and some eclectic items that appealed just to him, like the famous Boxing Squirrels.

The Miners Ball itself, however, has its own history. The ball was started as a dance put on by the local engineering students in the 1930s. The museum ended up taking the dance over and has expanded it to include a dinner, live and silent auctions and dancing to a live orchestra.

This year brought the return of the event that was previously shut down by COVID-19. The evening started with silent auctions and dinner. The opening remarks and thanks were given by Friends of the Mining and Rollo Jamison Museum president Deb Jenny, and City of Platteville Alderperson-at-Large, Kathy Kopp. Together, they introduced the speakers of the night, Interim Chancellor Dr. Tammy Evetovich and Museum Director Erik Flesch.

Soon after, the dancing started with the Killian Classic Big Band playing “In the Mood,” with a saxophone solo by the UW-Platteville’s own Allen Cordingley. The mood continued to lift, bringing couples to the dance floor and many others mingling with friends. There was even a surprise guest conductor, former Dean of Music G. Dan Fairchild, leading the alumni in singing the school song. This treat was a surprise even to G. Dan, who only planned to dance the night away with his wife. 

At the end of it all, the evening was a smashing success. The silent and live auctions went off marvelously, bringing in funds that the museum will inevitably put back into the community. Even more, the great tradition of a yearly ball has finally returned to the university, bringing back a much-loved and much-missed opportunity to pin ones hair up, button up a nice tuxedo, and spend a night dancing and socializing until well into the evening.