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.

Canada’s Hanover goes digital

Digital movie projector

This is actually a digital projector in Glendale AZ, but I couldn’t find any Hanover photos.

Over at The Post of Ontario, Patrick Bales reported this week on the reopening of a Hanover tradition, the Hanover Drive-In Theatre. It begins its 60th year with a new digital projector.

Hanover co-owner JD Lyons talked about making the decision to switch from film. “We sort of had to pay, convert, or become history,” Lyons said. ” We decided, after dwelling on that for sometime, that we would make the move and go to digital.”

The other co-owner, Lyle Schaus, makes sure that the movie’s hard drives and activation keys are working before showtime. “Last thing I want is to have a bunch of people in here, start the machine, and no go,” he said.

The Post article also includes a couple of nice photos and a lot more about Lyons and Schaus and the history of the Hanover. So you just know that you ought to go read it!

Niagara CCC excited about Transit’s reopening

Sunset at the Transit Drive-InIn the Niagara County (NY) Community College newspaper, The Spirit, there’s a front-page story about the reopening of the Transit Drive-In of South Lockport. The lengthy article (4.2 MB PDF) by Katie Murawski fairly gushes about the place “that looks as inviting to drive by as it is going in.”

According to the article, business is more than sufficient to support this largest of New York drive-ins. Murawski writes, “It’s not uncommon to drive past on the weekend and see a line of cars about a mile long just waiting to get their spot.”

In addition to the renovated snack bar (always a good idea), another thing I like hearing about the Transit is its retro night Tuesdays. On what would otherwise be a disappointing box office night, the folks there instead show older films such as The Goonies and Ghostbusters. I’ll bet that taps into a whole different audience, and the film rental has got to be a lot cheaper. If you’ve got a broadband connection for that big PDF, then go check it out!