The Star-Vu Drive-In has been an entertainment staple in the El Dorado community for more than 60 years. However, instead of announcing upcoming features to signal the start of summer, the marquee now reads “closed.”
But there is one group working to change that.
Three individuals, Byron Johnson, president; Amanda Baker, vice president; and Dena McCarthy, secretary/treasurer, have formed the committee, Save The Star-Vu Drive-In, in hopes of reopening the drive-in.
“We’re a committee of three people who are trying to save the drive-in,” Johnson said. “Basically, what our mission is, is to keep the drive-in open, to convert it to digital and to keep it here in El Dorado so our kids, grandkids and great-grandkids can go watch movies.
“We’re just trying to raise the money to actually buy the drive-in, the land, the building, the equipment and convert it to digital.”
They are working with the owner of the land to do just that. While the drive-in itself has changed owners, the land has been owned by the same individual since it opened in 1949.
When they raise the money to meet all of their goals, it won’t be one person who owns the drive-in, but rather the committee. That way if one person moves on another can take his or her place and the drive-in will continue to operate.
“The landowner is completely behind our cause,” Johnson said. “He’s wanting to get it up and running and he would really like to see it stay a drive-in.”
The committee’s goal is to get it converted to digital as soon as possible and open full-time by next year. They have already ordered the digital projector and just need to raise the money so they can go pick it up.
“We are planning on having several fundraising nights this summer,” Johnson said. “We also are going to show movies as a benefit.”
One of those benefits is a Junk in the Trunk Swap Meet, which will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the drive-in, 1016 S. Haverhill.
People are invited to bring their cars loaded with anything and everything they want to sell or trade. The cost is $5 per seller parking space. Then there is a $2 fee per vehicle for buyers.
In addition, they will be selling pulled pork sandwiches, chips and a drink for $4 or hot dogs, chips and a drink for $3. They will have drawings for a donation for t-shirts and gift certificates, as well as will be selling t-shirts.
Then in May they have a car show planned, which will include a motor blow. That is where they drain the oil and water out of a vehicle’s engine, then people can purchase chances on how long it will last until the motor blows up. After it cools, they will hold a car pound.
Page 2 of 2 - They also have other ideas such as a flea market.
In addition, two local businesses have partnered with them. If a person takes a coupon into Pizza Hut any Friday during April and says they are supporting the drive-in, Pizza Hut will donate 20 percent of the proceeds to their committee. Also, Papa Murphy’s has partnered with them on coupon cards for $10, with $25 worth of savings.
Anyone interested in either of those fundraisers can contact someone on the committee.
“Whatever we can do to raise money,” Johnson said.
They also are going around to local businesses and talking to them about donations not just of products and services, but also sponsorships.
“We are in discussions and meetings with several of the larger businesses in town to donate to buy the projector,” Johnson said.
They hope to know if they raise enough within a month or month and a half. If they do raise that money right away, they will go ahead and open full time this year.
One other thing they are working to do is get on the National and Kansas Registry of Historic Sites. This would be the first drive-in in Kansas to be on the register.
They did point out none of the money raised is going to any of them individually, rather it is going into a lock box until they get a bank account set up, which they hope to do this week.
“If we don’t succeed in keeping the Star-Vu open, any money that is raised will be going back into the community through local causes,” Baker said.
Johnson added that they would publicize those donations so people would know where the money went.
Their plans don’t stop with just the drive-in.
Johnson said they would like to put in a playground out there and also would like to build a miniature golf course.
Anyone wanting more information can e-mail them at email@example.com or e-mail Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org. They also are keeping up the old Star-Vu Facebook page and have started a new Facebook group, www.facebook.com/groups/savestarvudrivein.