June 17: Chilton Twilight Drive-In Theater, Chilton WI

Drive-In screen seen across a paved parking lot

Photo from the Twilight Drive-In Facebook page

It’s Day 168 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It’s always great to have a short drive, and this one took less than an hour, from the Field of Scenes in Freedom WI south to the Chilton Twilight Drive-In Theater in Chilton.

There are plenty of examples of former drive-ins getting turned into Walmarts. (I can think of at least one in Colorado.) The Twilight is a rare (unique?) example of a former Walmart getting repurposed as a drive-in theater. Wisconsin Drive-In Theaters reported that it opened in August 2011, with a more formal Grand Opening the following May. The Twilight uses part of the former Walmart building for its the concession stand, and the parking lot is the new viewing field.

A 2016 article in the Appleton Post-Crescent wrote that Mike Radue, co-owner of the Twilight, upgraded to digital projection in 2015. He said that it sells out most June and July weekends. The appeal is obvious. “It’s just a cool experience, and there aren’t that many of them around,” Radue said.

The Twilight is open Wednesdays through Sundays during the Summer. They bake their own pizzas and send a text when yours is ready.

Just like the Saturday before, I got to see Captain Underpants. I loved the books when I was reading them with my kid, and the movie was better than I expected.

Miles Today / Total:  31 / 21816 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Captain Underpants / 84

Nearby Restaurant: One of the advantages of a short drive is that it leaves me time to have lunch at a local coffee shop such as Terra Verde Coffee. Not only do they have the coffee and pastries I need on a daily basis, they had some nice sandwiches. I picked the Turk, a turkey sandwich with cranberry walnut relish. It was like Thanksgiving between two slices of bread!

Where I Virtually Stayed: If you’re going to stay overnight in Chilton, you’ll want to stay at the Best Western Stanton Inn just a block away from the Twilight. My room had a microwave, mini-fridge, and strong wifi. There was a nice hot tub inside and a dedicated path to the McDonalds next door outside, but the breakfast buffet was so thorough that I wasn’t tempted to walk over.

Only in Chilton: You think Wisconsin, you think cheese. You think Chilton, you should think Vern’s Cheese Store. Vern and Edith Knoespel established Knoespel Distributing on March 1, 1964. Since no one could pronounce Knoespel, they changed the name in 1965 to Vern’s Cheese Company. They had one truck, rented cooler space, and ran the wholesale business out of their home. In 1967 they purchased a small warehouse in rural Chilton, and the company has been growing ever since.

Next stop: Starlite 14 Drive In, Richland Center WI.

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