June 04, 2023

Strong finish for Valle Drive-In

Storm damage delayed opening for local attraction

It was a full house for opening weekend at the Valle Drive-In theater with people celebrating the attraction finally opening it’s doors after storm damage delayed the season. Hundreds of people came out for the three months the drive-in showed films, making the abbreviated year a success.

“(The first weekend) went really well. There was lots of excitement and a full house,” owner Jeff Namminga said.

The outdoor theater opened to the public the week of Aug. 5 with summer blockbuster “Top Gun: Maverick” showing along with the timely “Twister” feature following. Only those who purchased tickets ahead of time got it as the drive-in was sold out for the first few nights.

“It was a long spring and summer waiting for the repairs to get wrapped up but it was great to have people back out at the theater,” Namminga said.

The drive-in received substantial damage during the march storm that saw tornadoes throughout Madison, Warren, Polk and Jasper counties. The local attraction had a third of the screen taken out, the fence completely removed, a hole in the marquee and the concession stand building roof was lifted and dropped back down causing interior and roof damage.

“”It was very unfortunate, and we feel bad being delayed as we have a great group of loyal fans that we hated to disappoint. As well we think it is a great historic treasure and there was a lot of fear that we would not open ever again,” Namminga said.

Repairs took place throughout the summer leading to a much anticipated August opening date. Along with a repaired screen, fence and concession building, the well-known marquee is brand new, telling people once again what is on tap for the week.

“We are very excited about the new marque as we are trying to maintain the original look but also make it a landmark to be proud of,” Namminga said.

The drive-in wrapped up 2022 at the end of October, just before the snow hit the ground. Even with the shortened season, Namminga is thankful and excited for what they could bring to the public and already looking forward to next year.

“(We received) nothing but great support,” Namminga said.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com