Long Prairie drive-in theater rescued by donations

Monday, October 09, 2017

Donations are coming in from outdoor theater lovers, near and far, to Long Prairie where the town’s outdoor theater screen was heavily damaged by a storm on July 17.

Strong winds destroyed the original 1950s-era screen which measures 86 feet wide and stands 60 feet tall. Repairs are estimated at $60,000, and insurance does not cover all of the replacement costs.

The owners hope to reopen later in September and run outdoor shows into October, weather permitting.

The Long Drive-in at Long Prairie, about 30 miles northeast of Alexandria in Todd County, is one of only six outdoor theaters remaining in the state of Minnesota.

Our state once had close to 90 drive-in theaters, including the Fergus Drive-in on the south side of town, next to what once was the Ranch House restaurant and is now the American Legion.

By the end of the 1970s, the drive-in movie heyday was mostly over.

The only other drive-in theater in our area of Minnesota is the Sky-Vu Drive-in at Warren, about 25 miles northeast of East Grand Forks.

Other drive-in theaters currently in operation in Minnesota are the Vali-Hi Drive-in at Lake Elmo, Starlite 5 Drive-in at Litchfield, Verne Drive-in at Luverne and an outdoor theater at Elko. Each is located in southern Minnesota.

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