March 31, 2023

Storm damage may delay opening of Valle Drive-In

Owners say the movie theater may open for business mid-summer

Extensive storm damage to the Valle Drive-In last month may cause the movie theater located just west of Newton to delay its opening indefinitely until repairs can be completed.

Owners of the Valle Drive-In have been in contact with their insurance company since the storm. According to the company’s initial estimates, the repairs will cost anywhere between $25,000 to $50,000, co-owner Jeff Namminga said.

“As of now we are working with our insurers and looking for contractors to repair the damage,” Namminga said. “In the history of the Valle we’ve never had damage this extensive from a storm, even during the derecho.”

During the storm, several historic elements of the Valle were damaged.

Currently, the Valle Drive-In is one of five drive-in movie theaters still operating throughout the state. It is also the oldest, having opened for business officially in 1948. A majority of the original equipment from then is still used, from the concession stand, popcorn maker and neon Valle-In marquee sign out front greeting visitors.

Both the concession stand and the Valle Drive-In signage suffered serious storm damage. The stand almost lost its roof, and the sign sustained several large holes from flying debris.

Due to nationwide material shortages and the time it will take to repair all the damage, Namminga said the theatre will not be opening until much later in the year.

“Usually we would open sometime in April. But if I gave my honest estimate I’d say we’ll hopefully be opening sometime in the middle of this summer,” Namminga said.

Progress is already being made. The owners made with contractors and a new marquee sign was has already been ordered.

“We made sure that what we ordered will be as close to the original sign as possible, I’m pretty sure it even has neon in the same places,” Namminga said.

Namminga assured Newton News that even though the damage to the Valle Drive-In is extensive, the owners have no intention of shutting this local landmark down.

“Me and the other co-owner have ‘real’ jobs outside of this place. If it was just about business then, yeah, this place might be in trouble — but for us it’s much more of a passion project,” Namminga said.

And that passion seems to be paying off. Several members from surrounding communities have already reached out to offer their assistance to the Valle Drive In, Namminga said.

“I had some people just call last week asking if they could set up a fundraising drive for us or come out and help us clean up all the debris,” Namminga said.

While all the offers are appreciated, Namminga emphasized at the moment the Valle Drive-In will not be accepting any help until they have finished talking with their insurers.

Contact Abby Knipfel at 641-792-3121 ext. 6531 or

Abby Knipfel

Abby "Adler" Knipfel

Journalist at Newton Daily News. Currently covering Jasper County and writing passionate opinion pieces. They/Them