By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN Being a contestant on a TV game show was something Donna Grochow, Dassel, always had on her bucket list and after the Aug. 27 taping of Family Feud, it’s something she can cross off.
The adventure began two years prior when she heard an audition call for Family Feud at the Mall of America (MOA) on WCCO Radio.
“I knew my family was fun and that we could do it,” Grochow said, who quickly called the members of her family to see if they could make it for auditions the next day.
Among the teammates to play a mock game show in the MOA rotunda were Grochow’s sister-in-law, Donna Drew of Dassel and daughter Melissa Hillmyer of Watertown; Grochow’s sister Vicki Danielson of Dassel, and Grochow’s daughter Melanie Gross.
With 30 families just in their time slot ready to audition, the family knew they had to stand out from the rest.
“They told us you have to be fun and energetic,” Danielson said.
Whatever they did, it must have worked since they were chosen to go on for individual photos and interviews.
The family originally expected to tape the game show yet that year, but the show had been done for 2009.
Then in 2010, the Grochow family anticipated it would be their year. But with a change in hosts (Steve Harvey took the place of John O’Hurley) and locations (California to Atlanta, GA), put the taping back another year.
After waiting to get the call, the family was asked to send in an audition tape since it had been nearly two years from the first audition.
Once again, the family knew they had to do something that would stand out and get them on the show.
To go with the audition tape, Grochow came up with a catchy jingle about her family that they sang to the tune of “The Addams Family” theme song.
“We’re quirky and we’re funny, we want to win the money, on the feud we’d like to play,
The Grochow Family
To Atlanta we’ll bring our team, good answers we will scream, this really is our dream,
The Grochow Family
Steve Harvey is the man, with questions in his hand, we’ll answer the best we can,
The Grochow Family
From Minnesota we’d like to go, please ask us to your show, we’ll play it like a pro,
The Grochow Family”
Two weeks after sending in the audition video, Grochow received a call from the show: “We couldn’t get that jingle out of our heads,” the caller told her. They were also promised they would be on the show yet in 2011.
One of the things that had changed since their first audition was that Grochow’s daughter, Melanie, was pregnant and wouldn’t be able to fly out for a taping.
To replace her, they invited Grochow’s son Brandon from Homer, AK to join them.
With some video editing, Grochow was able to add Brandon to the audition video, as well.
The family flew down to Atlanta Aug. 26 for the taping to take place the following day.
They received an all-expenses paid two-night stay as part of being on the show.
The day of taping was long, with the family starting out at 8 a.m.
As part of the show, they had to follow several rules including preferred clothing. They were also told to show enthusiasm and use their “outdoor” voices during the taping of the show.
They were told to “just have fun,” Hillmyer said. “That was key to get us in the right spirit and mood.”
First they had to participate as audience members while the two other shows were being taped. Then, they got the heads up that they were next.
“The staff was awesome,” Grochow said, explaining that they were nice and were able to “pump you up” before heading on stage.
“They treated us very well,” Drew said.
“We almost felt like stars,” Grochow added.
With only 15 minutes to touch-up makeup, pray, and get excited to play, the Grochows took their spots on the Family Feud.
“It’s the weirdest feeling seeing your family name come up in those lights,” Grochow said.
“The set was amazing,” Drew said, explaining how colorful and bright it was.
With thousands of families auditioning for the show, only a very small percentage actually make it, Danielson explained.
“We were winners just to be chosen,” she said.
When on stage, the family commented that they never even noticed the cameras. “The team was so focused on playing the game,” Hillmyer said. “It’s such a fast-paced game you focus on winning,” she said.
Strategically, the team played very well, Hillmyer commented. They were able to come up with answers, whether right or wrong. “That’s success in and of itself,” she said.
“We’re all pretty excited and proud of ourselves,” Grochow said. “It was a fun accomplishment.”
As far as making it on a nationally televised game show, “We really didn’t think of it being seen by so many people even though it’s a great game show and a favorite at our homes,” she said.
The Grochow family will air on Family Feud Monday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. on CW Twin Cities and again Tuesday, Jan. 31 at 6 p.m.
Families can win up to $20,000 if they get 200 points in the fast money portion of the game or $5 per point.
“It’s not as easy as it looks to win the $20,000,” Danielson said.
Though the family can’t disclose how much money they won, they can say they came away with a lasting memory.