Drive-in theatres back in business as Prairie Dog Drive-In gets 40th season underway

Saskatchewan’s drive-in theatres are opening before the start of the May long weekend ahead of the province’s second phase of their reopen plan scheduled for May 19.

One of those theatres – the Prairie Dog Drive-In located in Carlyle – is kicking off their opening with a few changes that follow the province’s public health measures.

It also happens to be their 40th anniversary.

Speaking to owner Ray Boutin over the phone, he wanted to give a heads up to visitors that things will look different when they take in their drive-in theatre experience this time around.

“We are down to half a crowd. The divider posts used to accommodate two vehicles, but now they will accommodate one,” explained Boutin.

“The posts will be numbered because we’ll be offering delivery of [concession] products and goodies. In fact, we are going to supply a bag of fresh popcorn at the gate when they come through to alleviate some pressure at the concession.”

(Photo courtesy of Ray Boutin)

Boutin expanded by saying they will allow two customers in the concession building at a time in order to follow physical distancing measures.

Visitors will also have access to washrooms which will be vigilantly cleaned according to Boutin. While he is asking for limited use when they are open, he understands that “when nature calls, nature calls.”

Boutin admitted it would have been a real shame if the screen wasn’t lit for their 40th year.

It has been 40 years of showing movies on the big screen for residents of Carlyle and visitors from all over. When he and his family took over the theatre in 1997, he admits it was kind of a dying institution.

However he said they have continued to receive support from residents over the years and found there was a resurgence in people wanting to visit drive-ins.

“There’s a pent up demand for some kind of safe social outlet and I think this will answer that need,” added Boutin.

“I can’t help but make a little bit of a joke out of it that it’s taken 40 years and a pandemic to put the drive-in theatre back on the map. It’s the revival of the drive-in.”

The Prairie Dog will be showing the movie Trolls: World Tour during the long weekend.

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