A Copperopolis couple is ready to open up Barrel of Monkeez in the late fall at the Tom Sawyer Hall in Angels Camp’s Frogtown.
Not just one of the simple table games of interlocking red plastic chimps, mind you, but something much bigger.
Matthew and Jennifer Iannarelli are putting the pieces into place for what they envision as becoming the premiere indoor family entertainment destination in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties.
“There’s not always a lot to do here,” Jennifer, 30, said she noticed, particularly after having her son and “number-one Monkee” Ayden, 2, five years after moving east from the Bay Area.
“Yes, there’s rivers and lakes … but it gets so hot in the summer and just nasty in the winter.”
So the interior designer and her husband, a landscape designer and construction worker, leased the nearly 10,000 square feet that have housed the arts and crafts exhibits for many years at the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee.
They have begun laying out what will soon be a karaoke dance music studio, “Magic Monkey Floor” sensory gaming system that can accommodate up to 10 players at a time, “human hamster bowling” with people climbing into the inflatable ball to strike soft pins, laser tag arena, multiple inflatable bounce houses for various age groups, nine-hole miniature golf and a “child-powered” indoor race track of non-motorized vehicles.
The Iannarellis said they have special-needs children on each side of the family and are designing Barrel of Monkeez with children with autism and cerebral palsy in mind with a jungle theme and lighting features throughout.
Matthew, 36, is keeping the theme specific to the laser tag course a closely guarded secret until opening, tentatively in November.
“We just encourage everybody to be involved with their kids and have fun,” he said.
Jennifer said she is already hearing positive feedback from parents club members at Bret Harte High School. Those 17 and younger will have to be accompanied by adults at the entertainment center, but the couple expects special events to be a big part of their business. Sober grad nights would be a good fit, Jennifer said, and Twisted Oak Winery has already expressed interest in celebrating a company Christmas party there. A 127-inch screen and 3-D projector will be installed for movie nights.
Barrel of Monkeez will remain open during the four days of the May fair and the exhibits once assigned to the hall will be housed elsewhere. The only change during the fair will be parking moved to outside of the main gate, Matthew said.