According to the West Central Tribune of Willmar MN, the Starlite was built by brothers Fred and Lloyd Schnee in 1956. The Schnees sold the drive-in to the Lutz family in 1976, but the Starlite closed in 1981.
Tim Eiler bought the decaying property in 1997 and began slowly restoring it in his spare time while adding more screens. He was up to five screens (though only two digital projectors) when an ankle injury in 2105 led him to sell the Starlite to David Quincer, who told the Wadena Pioneer Journal, “We’ll likely run the two digital screens and see from there.” Sure enough, the Starlite has only two active screens today.
I added a nice video profile of Eiler and the Starlite made in 2014 by AM 1240 WJON.
This was the first multi-screen drive-in I’d seen in a few days, and it was nice to have a choice. I didn’t really want to see the latest Pirates installment yet again, so it was great to have Captain Underpants as an alternative.
Miles Today / Total: 95 / 21096 (rounded to the nearest mile)
Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Captain Underpants / 77
Nearby Restaurant: The Parkview Grille is small, but it has a patio that’s nice this time of year. It’s the kind of place that serves bacon-wrapped shrimp – not a diner, but very interesting all the same. It’s good to eat fish now and then (gotta keep that balanced diet), so I splurged on the walleye fillet, and it was great.
Where I Virtually Stayed: Once upon a time, decades ago, I had a really nice stay at a Knights Inn. That’s why I decided to give the Knights Inn in Litchfield a try, even though the AmericInn was ranked higher by TripAdvisor. There were some smokers around the common areas, sure, but I’m used to Las Vegas casinos, so this was nothing. My room was clean and had a mini-fridge. With the money I saved, I supplemented the spartan continental breakfast by heading next door to the McDonalds.
Only in Litchfield: Just down the road in Darwin, the town famous for “The World’s Largest Twine Ball Made By One Man.” If you stop by the Darwin Twine Ball Museum, you correctly expect to see the result of Francis Johnson’s 29-year effort, but you can also stand in the presence of “The World’s Largest Handcarved Multiple Pliers.” And every second Saturday in August, the entire town celebrates Twine Ball Days.
Next stop: Long Drive-In Theatre, Long Prairie MN.