Drive-in movies will make a return to Helena next week.
The Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds is contracting with a company to host a drive-in movie on Wednesday evening, May 20. If successful, the fairgrounds will consider bringing the drive-in back weekly so long as it draws interest, said manager Kevin Tenny.
“We’re definitely going to do it,” he said, adding that details were still being worked out. “If it’s successful we’ll do it again until it loses its luster. I think it’ll be a fun thing for Helena.”
The company is unavailable on weekends for the next month due to prior commitments, but with the cancellation of Alive at 5 on Wednesdays, the drive-in movies could make for a good community event during COVID-19 restrictions, according to the fairgrounds Facebook page.
The fairgrounds needs to balance affordability for patrons with the cost. Tenny believes initial entrance fees may range from $7-8 per person or $20-25 per vehicle, and vehicles will need to come from the east entrance off of Green Meadow Drive located near Green Meadow Market. Entry will not be allowed through the main gate, he said.
The start time will be at approximately 8:30 p.m. near sunset. Tenny would like to host a double feature on the first night but that remains up in the air, as well as the movies to be shown.
Helena formerly had two drive-in theaters: the Sunset Drive-In built in 1949 and demolished in 1982 at the site of present day Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply, and the Ski-Hi Drive-In built in 1952 and demolished in 1993 located on Helena’s east side at the site of present day Les Schwab Tire Center.
Montana is currently in Phase 1 of reopening following restrictions put in place by Gov. Steve Bullock. Drive-in theaters emerged as an option at several Montana cities that would allow for entertainment coupled with social distancing.
Bullock recently announced that regular theaters, along with gyms and museums, could reopen on May 15.
Reporter Tom Kuglin can be reached at 447-4076 @IR_TomKuglin
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