Mar. 12: Hi-way 50 Drive in, Lewisburg TN

It’s Day 71 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. For the second time on this trip, I shifted a couple of stops to make sure I could catch a drive-in when it’s active. In this case, that meant saving the Pink Cadillac Drive In in Centerville TN until my next time through in a couple of weeks. Instead, I stuck mostly to the interstates as I drove two hours from Camden directly to the Hi-way 50 Drive ln in Lewisburg TN.

This drive-in is old, with the old style of screen, relatively narrow and supported diagonally on its sides. But exactly how old? Some sources say 1946, but it didn’t show up in the MPAA’s 1948 list or the Theatre Catalog in 1949. It was definitely running by 1952, but before that I’m unconvinced.

At any rate, this fine example of early drive-ins has stayed in operation through the decades. The Hi-Way 50 survived a concession stand fire in March 2007; thanks in part to donations, the drive-in reopened a few weeks later. In 2009, CBS Sunday Morning dropped in for a piece about artist Mary Whyte as she photographed then-owner Gary Douglas for her project on “jobs that are going away.” In 2011, the drive-in was the backdrop for Blake Shelton’s Footloose music video.

According to the Columbia Daily Herald, Steve Wakham Jr. and his family bought it after Douglas “had fallen ill” and the Hi-Way had been closed for the majority of the 2013 season. The Wakhams performed extensive remodeling and added a digital projector to bring it up to date.

The Hi-Way 50 shows movies on Fridays through Sundays, which is why I didn’t want to wait until Monday to show up. My reward was another viewing of A Dog’s Purpose, which was the early movie. That was the fourth time I’d seen it, but the first time in over a month. The active drive-ins have been so few lately that I was just glad for the experience.

I don’t get to see salad at a concession stand very often, so I had one along with a corn dog to somehow balance my nutrition. At least I resisted the fried Oreos.

Miles Today / Total:  119 / 9156 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: A Dog’s Purpose / 40

Nearby Restaurant: I love buffets. I love fried chicken. So I loved Mildred’s Restaurant, which has a buffet that features fried chicken. It also had some great rolls, and I took a scoop of green beans too, just to stay healthy.

Where I Virtually Stayed: I believe that the best hotel in Lewisburg is the Richland Inn. It’s not one of those modern places, but I had a mini-fridge, microwave, and good wifi. The continental breakfast was on a par with what I’d find elsewhere, and the price on the room was great.

Only in Lewisburg: Every year Lewisburg holds what used to be called the Fainting Goat Festival, but which now has the more attractively bland name Goats, Music & More. Fainting goats have a strange tendency to become temporarily rigid, even to the point of losing balance and falling over when startled. According to festival organizers, it’s caused by a neuromuscular condition called Myotonia, which does not harm the goat.

Next Stop: Montana Drive-In, Estill Springs TN.