Pinball Wizards

Dan Nikolich, an engineer by trade, meant to buy only one pinball machine. He just wanted to fix it up, see if he could make it work. The process was so rewarding that he bought another. “I’m just going to buy one more,” he thought at the time, “and that turned into one more and one more, and all of a sudden, eight years later, I have fifty,” he says. He keeps six of them in his personal game room, one at his in-laws’, one at a friend’s house and others on location — including six at Moe’s Bar-B-Que in Englewood.

Once a year, however, Nikolich and his wife, Holly, pull all the machines out of storage for the Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown, 10,000 square feet of tournament play, exhibitors and seminars. Dozens and dozens of other owners and vendors show up with their machines to support the event’s No Quarters Needed ethos, making for three crazy days of furious flipping, non-stop blinking and serious high scoring.

“Pinball is pretty alive and active along the Front Range,” says Nikolich. “It’s become more a mainstream, kind of retro thing in Denver. In the beginning, we had a rough time finding people to bring their games, and now we’ve essentially tripled in size.”

The seventh annual Showdown starts today at noon and runs until 5 p.m. Sunday at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds (Auditoriums 2 and 3), 15200 West Sixth Avenue in Golden. Admission is $20 per day for adults, $10 for ages seven to twelve; kids six and under get in free. Get a full schedule and more details at www.pinballshowdown.com or by calling 303-938-9889.
Fri., April 23, 12-10 p.m.; Sat., April 24, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., April 25, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 2010

 
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