Reflecting on a fifth drive-in season
This past Saturday we wrapped up our fifth season at the Dacotah Drive-In with our first successful triple feature. We ran the Scream trilogy in our first season on the May long weekend of 2008 and learned a couple of things: triple features have to be carefully programmed, triple features have to be scheduled during the early and late parts of a season because of the time the sun sets, and people will not come to the theatre on a long weekend!
This season we attracted between 25-33 people a night. Our double bills with a family movie followed by a more adult oriented movie were the most popular (Puss In Boots/Anchorman and The Muppets/Bridesmaids). June is a quiet month no matter what we program. It was also the first season we expanded the season to Easter and Halloween, and it couldn’t have gone better. We got perfect weather every night!
We brought back a double bill of Twister/The Shining from our first season due to popular demand but because of technology problems, we unfortunately lost The Shining. The first time we ran those features we had such a severe storm sweep in we also lost that original showing. It seems to be a cursed double bill.
This season we finally kicked DVDs and moved on to high-quality encoded DivX movies played from USB storage. This has been a lot more reliable and also allowed me to focus on other things since I’ve been able to create auto show starts and seamless changeovers between features and intermission.
This was our first season with a concession stand. We started with a popcorn maker for the first night and added the deep fryer on the second night. The concession stand has been wildly popular and I think we serve the best onion rings, curly fries, hot dogs, burgers, and of course popcorn (my secret recipe). Deep fried pizza pops have also been like crack for anyone that’s made it out for the shows.
None of this would be possible without all of the fans we bring the experience to. We just can’t let the drive-in die and people who come out to the shows make it all possible and worthwhile. Thanks to everyone for letting me indulge in this passion. I absolutely could not do this without Rauri Qually. Thank you so much Rauri for providing us with our venue. You don’t even know how much it means. Thanks to my partner Louis Beales for helping me set up and tear down everything each night and for making it through to the wee hours of the morning. You help me put the finishing touches on each night. Thank you to my best friend Ashley Ohlson who has been there since the start and even jumped on the grill this past weekend to help us out! Ash, when I first dreamed this up you encouraged me to go for it. You even drove me to buy the projector!
In just 5 months we’ll be firing the projector back up for our 6th season! Until then, hang tight. We’ve got a few upgrades and plans up our sleeves already.
*Special thanks to Natasha Woloschuk for the pictures.