July 16: Field of Dreams Drive-In, Liberty Center OH

It’s Day 197 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I paid for my last-minute detour to Michigan’s upper peninsula, driving six and a half hours from Manistique to a drive-in that’s only open on weekends, the Field of Dreams Drive-In northeast of Liberty Center OH.

Just last month, The Toledo Blade ran a great, long article about the Field of Dreams and its owners, Rod and Donna Saunders. They had lamented the closing of the Star Auto Theater of Wauseon OH, where Rod grew up. The Star shut down in 1999, and the Saunders were reminded of its passing whenever they drove by and saw its abandoned screen.

“Finally, after a couple of years of hearing her say that, I said somebody ought to open one,” Rod said.

After researching some other sites, they settled on the most logical – the backyard of their home. It required plowing down acres of cornfields, so it was natural to name it the Field of Dreams after the 1989 Kevin Costner movie.

This place is really remote, so it doesn’t have to worry with a lot of light pollution. As the Blade put it, “The theater has been known to fool more than one GPS or cell phone, and — when corn’s about ready to be harvested — it’s easy to drive by the site without knowing it.”

The Saunders added a second Field of Dreams Drive-In in Tiffin OH, about 70 miles away, in 2011 after learning that its previous owner was about to shut it down. I’ve got more drive-ins in Michigan and Indiana left to visit, but I should get back to the Tiffin in early August.

Thank goodness the Field of Dreams has two screens, giving me a chance to dodge Despicable Me 3 this night. War for the Planet of the Apes was the early movie on Screen 2, and it makes a good drive-in movie, but I bet I’d have enjoyed it more if I’d seen the movies that led up to it.

Miles Today / Total:  420 / 25305 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: War for the Planet of the Apes / 113

Nearby Restaurant: This was my first exposure to Pisanello’s Pizza, a local chain centered around Toledo. After the decadent food I’d had the previous couple of days, I grounded myself with a large Italian salad. Then I smelled the pizza, and compromised on a small pizza sub sandwich. That way, I had my pepperoni and lettuce too.

Where I Virtually Stayed: There’s no place to stay in Liberty Center. The closest hotels to the drive-ins are in Napoleon, and the Comfort Inn there took care of me for the night. My room had the full range of amenities, breakfast was solid Comfort Inn quality with a waffle maker, and the location was quiet away from the highway. Just what I needed after a couple of days of hard driving.

Only in Liberty Center: Just next door in Napoleon OH, the Campbell’s Soup plant has a water tower decorated like a Campbell’s Soup can, and a grounded stationary 20-foot tower painted to look just like a huge can of Campbell’s tomato soup. That’s it!

Next stop: Capri Drive-In Theater, Coldwater MI.

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