An Interview With Local Celebrity Fred Vaughn

12507103_10205647367209701_3261246364405046412_nLast week Mineral Point, Wisconsin was swept up in Jeopardy! mania as local hero Fred Vaughn became a 4-day Jeopardy! Champion winning $65,700.

Fred seemed remarkably calm as he displayed his impressive knowledge on a vast array of topics to a national audience. On Day 4 he further charmed the hometown crowd by giving a shout out to Hodan Community Services.

Recently, Fred was nice enough to answer some questions about himself and his exciting experience.

HSB: Thanks for agreeing to an interview Fred.  The first question I have to ask is how did you get so smart?

FV: I’m not sure there’s anything TOO special to my “smarts” beyond staying in school, and trying my best to pay attention in general, for starters. I guess I’m just one of those folks who always seems to hold onto little, interesting details about many things.

HSB: You seemed so calm under pressure, were you freaking out inside?

FV: I think how I appeared outwardly during that very first episode should tell you a lot about the inner dialogue. After the first win, I do remember being a bit more comfortable.

HSB: When did you tape the shows?

12366045_1235511226462779_3378261129610312173_oFV: We taped it in Los Angeles during the third week of December – it was delayed a month by Alex Trebek having knee-replacement surgery followed by a slower-than-expected recovery.

HSB: How many changes of clothes did you have to bring to the taping?

FV: They tell you to bring enough changes for up to three outfits, mixing and matching as needed. They’re particular about colors clashing with the background (to the point of very gently asking me to leave the striped shirt I’d worn to my audition at home).

HSB: How long does it take to tape one show, and how much time is there between tapings?

FV: They tape in sequence, five episodes a day with each episode taking about 30 minutes (barring post-production issues or redo of some audio). Occasionally, if a clue gets compromised (say, by someone in the audience yelling out the correct response before the contestants buzz in), they have to re-record with a back-up clue for that category. They say they always have a sixth clue – there’s even an online game with the unused clues from a given day. Between episodes, the defending champion – and Alex, in a separate area – are changing backstage (There’s a nicely-sized star on the champion’s dressing room door in the green room.) while the next two challengers are selected randomly from the invitees in the green room. In my dressing room, it took me about 10 minutes or so each time.

HSB: People say the buzzer is tricky, but you seemed really good at it. Did they give you much time to practice?

FV: The signaling device was not kind to my right thumb, and even though we rehearsed with it both mornings and after lunch before taping, it took some getting used to – especially on a *very* air-conditioned soundstage. I had to adjust my grip a few times, but I managed to get my grip and the timing right, certainly by the end of my first episode.

HSB: How hard was it not to tell anyone that you were a 4-day champion?

FV: As far as telling people, I mostly just tried to smile politely and just keep telling people to watch or record on January 22nd if they could. I may have hinted at the outcome, but mostly I really tried to cultivate an audience. Apparently, I didn’t disappoint.

HSB: What was Alex Trebek like?

FV: Alex is at once sophisticated, kindly, smarmy, snarky, and goofy – those were a few of the sides we got to see of him. As far as I’m concerned, he can be the coolest guy in any room he wants for life if he wants to.

HSB: What do you plan to do with your winnings?

FV: I’m still undecided – home repairs, charitable donations, and some new tech toys come to mind so far. I’ll have a better idea as that time draws closer.

HSB: Are you going to try out for any other game shows, and if the Mineral Point Chamber of Commerce puts on the Brain Games this year will you take part?

FV: I don’t know about other game shows yet, but I have been asked about another Brain Games, and would gladly be a part of that again.

HSB: Thanks for being such a wonderful representative of Mineral Point. It was fun watching you. Will you let us know if you qualify for the Tournament of Champions so we can cheer you on?

FV: There are many rumblings online about my Tournament of Champions odds, but I have nothing else to say on it until an invite appears – not that I’d mind, of course. I had fun the first time, so one more round would be nice.

It sure would be!  Thanks Fred!


Posted in People | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A new guide in town

Mp cover 16Every year about this time, the new Visitor Guide arrives in town. The Chamber of Commerce is pleased to present the 2016 edition, which features cover art by Mineral Point artist, Jan Johnson. Within its pages you will also find some playful creatures – tommyknockers. Jane Wilcoxson, also a Mineral Point artist, has painted a variety of these little guys having a good time in town.

What is a tommyknocker, you ask?

Hidden deep within the mines of Cornwall, these faeries were helpful to the men working in the dark underground. When the miners left their homes and traveled across the sea to work the mines of southwest Wisconsin, the little spirit creatures made the trip with them. Tommyknockers get their name from strange knocking sounds that were heard on mineshaft walls. These invisible knockers were thought to be the ghosts of deceased miners who would warn of impending disaster. Sometimes, these helpful faeries would lead the men to a rich vein of ore. But they could also be mischievous practical jokers – who else would be responsible for missing tools or food? Although fun loving and helpful little beings, it was best not to irritate the tommyknockers, for they could become vindictive if they were abused or neglected. Miners often left a bit of their pasty lunch behind for their invisible companions – just to be sure they stayed friendly and to thank them for their help.

tommyknockerWe hope you have some fun with these mythical creatures as they find all sorts of ways to enjoy a trip around Mineral Point. Then come and discover for yourself all the reasons we love it here.

Posted in Architecture, Art, Entertainment, Food, General, History, Lodging, Shopping, Traditions | 2 Comments

The Answer Is: Mineral Point, Wisconsin

The Question Is: Where is the reigning Jeopardy Champion from?

If you were watching on Friday, then you would have seen Mineral Point resident Fred Vaughn win $16,000 and become the latest Jeopardy! Champion. The image below is from the official Jeopardy! website.


Just becoming a Jeopardy contestant – let alone a champion – is no small feat.  You have to pass an online test that is only given once a year (this year it will be given next week January 26, 27, 28, 2016) . If you pass the online test your name is put in a random selection pool and you might be given an audition, which consists of a written test, participating in a mock game show, and a personality screen. If you do well, there’s still no guarantee that you’ll be selected to be on the show.

So, big congratulations are in order for Fred Vaughn for doing Mineral Point proud.

Plan to tune in Monday to watch reigning champion Fred Vaughn take on two new contestants.  Jeopardy! airs locally at 4:30 p.m. on NBC 15.

Good luck Fred!  We’ll be rooting for you.

-Contributed by Lisa Hay

Posted in General | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Mineral Point, Wisconsin – A Nice Place To Live

photo-655You know the expression “it’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there”? Well, that doesn’t apply to Mineral Point, Wisconsin.

Here’s a link to a 9-minute film, which has been in the works for over a year, that helps explain why people choose to live in Mineral Point.

The film features interviews with Aaron and Monica Dunn, Kristin Staver, Julia Dailey, Rod Schlimpert, Lowry White, and Jerry Cassidy. It was directed by Kerry Shaw Brown whose work includes those great Culver’s commercials. The project was initiated by the Mineral Point Economic Development Committee and was financed jointly by Cummins and the Sielaff Corporation.

Feel free to share the film with anyone and everyone to spread the word about the wonders of Mineral Point – a nice place to visit, where you do want to live.

Contributed by Lisa Hay

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s Beginning To Sound A Lot Like Christmas

In addition to the five musical events in Mineral Point this weekend, here’s another musical item to add to your list.

 For your listening pleasure, Jason and Kanndie Basting (731 Madison) have added their own personal radio station to their fantastic light display.


Tune in to 90.3 FM when you are directly in front of their home to hear their favorite Christmas songs. When I stopped by tonight to take this picture Elvis was playing.

This is one of many outstanding lit-up homes in town. It seems like the mild weather has given Pointers ample time to go all-out this year.

The town looks magical, and in front of the Basting’s house it also sounds magical.

Contributed by Lisa Hay

Posted in Family | Tagged | 2 Comments