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Drive-in organizers optimistic for May opening

It’s been abandoned for 30 years, the screen, destroyed in a storm in 2011 and since then sat decaying. That’s all likely to change when Dan and Gina Beckley announced plans to restore the former VanBuren Drive-in.

“It’s going to be a three screen drive-in,” Dan Beckley told the OBSERVER. “Screen number one and screen number three are first run screens which means we can play brand new releases. Screen number two is the multipurpose field which is an LED video wall. This makes us the only drive-in that I know of that can show movies during the day, but they are second-run movies, they can’t be new releases.”

The first screen measures 62 feet by 32 feet and can accommodate 341 cars, 232 socially distanced. It will broadcast sound via FM radio and the drive-in will supply radios for anyone having difficulty. Screen three will be 32 feet by 16 feet and will have 20 parking spots for RVs plus 18 cars; this screen, however, will require people to use lawn chairs or blankets. They already have a plan for rain and hope to also look into having natural gas fire pits in the future.

Screen number two is the most interesting measuring at 24 feet by 13 feet and will broadcast like an indoor theater with 5.1 surround sound. As this is not a first-run screen It’s in this location that the Beckleys hope to have various events such as car shows, custom van shows and concerts often followed by event themed movies.

“We’re planning on having a jazz concert series on Sunday afternoons and then we’ll have some sort of a jazzy movie afterwards,” Beckley shared. “If we have a car show during the day we’d show a car show type of movie. If we had a dog show, we’d have some sort of dog movie.

“My dream night is on the multipurpose field that we’d book an 80s cover band and have them play 30 minutes, then we show Back to the Future and then the band comes back on, plays for another 20 minutes then show Back to the Future II and then we do it again for Back to the Future III; I think that would be a perfect night.”

As for food. the Beckleys are also working on that.

“We’re rebuilding the original concession stand and it’ll have everyone’s favorites such as hot dogs, burgers, popcorn, pizza, french fries, nachos and Pepsi products,” Beckley noted. “Concession stand number two which will go down between screens two and three will be a limited stand with popcorn, candy bars and drinks.”

The Beckleys would like to make it pet friendly so long as pets are well behaved and down the road plan to add playgrounds for kids as well.

“We’re going to keep up with the family friendly activities,” Beckley said.

The Beckleys ask the public if they have any ideas for events or themes to reach out through their website at www.vanburendrivein.fun or to like their Facebook page. The drive-in hopes to be open by mid-May.

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