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Would-be contestants go round and round at ‘Wheel of Fortune’ auditions in Mulvane

What it's like to fill Vanna White's shoes

Meggan Kaiser, who is a traveling hostess with the "Wheel of Fortune" Wheelmobile, talks about what it's like flipping the letters across the country. (Matt Riedl/The Wichita Eagle)
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Meggan Kaiser, who is a traveling hostess with the "Wheel of Fortune" Wheelmobile, talks about what it's like flipping the letters across the country. (Matt Riedl/The Wichita Eagle)

Vowels – and good times – were free Saturday at the Kansas Star Casino as “Wheel of Fortune” brought a traveling version of its show to Mulvane.

“Wheel” fans from all over the state came to the casino to show off their puzzle-solving chops, all vying to be featured in the show’s upcoming season, which starts filming in July.

It was the first time the Wheelmobile, a traveling version of the popular NBC game show, has been in the Wichita area.

Here’s how it works.

People who attend one (or more) of the free hourlong events fill out a contestant application. Groups of five are chosen at random to participate in one of several rounds and receive various “Wheel”-themed prizes, such as hats, T-shirts and duffel bags.

The games played at the event are similar to the show’s “speed-up rounds,” in which contestants guess a letter and then have an opportunity to solve the puzzle if that letter is in the puzzle.

A Pat Sajak stand-in, Marty Lublin, interviews the contestants while “Wheel” officials take notes on people they want to see more of.

Successful candidates will receive letters or e-mails from the game show in the coming weeks, inviting them to audition further.

The 34th season in syndication of “Wheel of Fortune,” which could feature lucky Wichitans, will air on NBC starting in September.

Most people at the casino on Saturday were there for a fun time, watching a live version of the show that has aired on TV for more than 40 years now.

“I’ve wanted to be on the ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ ‘The Price Is Right’ – any game show – all my life,” said Derby resident Becky Van Dyke. “This is like pure bliss just being here.”

Van Dyke, who was wearing a homemade “Wheel” shirt, was chosen to participate in a round on Saturday, and she won her round by correctly guessing “Oatmeal raisin cookies” as the puzzle’s solution.

Saturday was Wichitan Emily Burch’s second time playing at a Wheelmobile event – she was chosen to play in Kansas City three years ago, she said.

She said “Wheel” will always hold a special place in her heart, because, in a roundabout way, it was what brought her and her fiance together.

“We have mutual friends and we actually started playing the ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Facebook app game – we would play against each other and talk on there,” Burch said. “We eventually started dating, and now we’re getting married.”

Her fiance said she typically beats him at the game – she won and correctly solved her puzzle at the arena on Saturday as well.

The Wheelmobile will be in town through Sunday afternoon, and Van Dyke, the Derby resident, said she plans on attending every show.

“I just want to be here,” she said.

Matt Riedl: 316-268-6660, @RiedlMatt

Wheelmobile at the Kansas Star Casino

What: A traveling version of the popular NBC game show gives people an opportunity to audition for the live show.

When: Audition shows will be at 1, 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. on Sunday

Where: Kansas Star Casino’s Event Center, 777 Kansas Star Drive, Mulvane

How much: Admission is free but is limited to those 21 or older.

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