Eastern Iowa drive-in theater displays modern blockbusters in a throwback fashion

61 Drive-In Theatre in Delmar, 5 miles south of Maquoketa, an easy day shuttle
People watch a movie at the 61 Drive-In film theater in Delmar, Iowa on Friday, May 15, 2020.

The single-reveal theater, which has been in operation since 1950, uses FM radio to transmit sound. (Rebecca F.

Miller/The Gazette)
By Carrie Campbell, for The Gazette

Five miles south of Maquoketa, tucked amid corn and soybean fields along Highway 61, sits the 61 Drive-In Theatre, a throwback to the glory days of out of doors theaters.

The force-in has been appearing first-run films for the past 70 years, opening in 1950 even as force-ins were plentiful.

Dennis Voy, 81, of Maquoketa, who also owns a local radio station, acquired the force-in in 1972.

“A friend owned the theater and urged me to purchase it as I can also just promote it with my radio station,” Voy said. “I acquired it over a morning cup of coffee and immediately put my spouse’s father to paintings, who crucial something to do with early level MS (multiple sclerosis).”

The 61 Drive-in Theatre is now handiest one of four out of doors movie theaters in Iowa.

Voy says a few matters have converted over the years. Speaker stands are no longer in the parking spots; movie-goers tune their car radio or a portable radio to an FM station to pay attention the movie’s audio.

Voy indicates bringing lawn chairs or blankets and a portable radio if you desire to watch the movie from external your vehicle.

With 2 hundred spots, the 61 Drive-In does occasionally sell out, so get there previously 8 p.m. The first of two movies begins at dusk, typically about 9 p.m.

There’s a good deal to do whilst you wait.

“We have a swing set, sandbox, tetherballs, basketball, volleyball net, wiffle ball diamond and free kiddie exercise rides for americans who come early to get their favourite parking spot,” Voy said. “People come as early as 6:30 p.m., and we like to see children busy all the manner to showtime. Parents can play cards, talk, snack a lot and watch the children have fun.”

The small kiddie exercise that winds thru the lot once had been used at Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids.


“I heard it might be for sale,” Voy said. “I bought it, and the four-car, rubber-tired exercise has given hundreds of rides around the drive-in ever considering the assertion that.”

While families can bring their own food and drinks, the theater has a full-service concession stand that offers popcorn, burgers, hot dogs and drinks, among other matters.

Voy says many americans will bring a cooler nevertheless also get hot food at the concession stand.

The drive-in is open six days a week, June via August (closed Mondays), and open weekends in May and September. Tickets are $9 for adults, $7 for teenagers and $5 for children, with kids 3 and below getting in loose.

The 35-by-60-foot display shows double features, so “you get reasonably the cut price out of it, $9 for two, three or six hours of movies.”

“It’s a statement that maximum individuals stay for the second movie, even though it can even last until 1 or so in the morning,” Voy said. “And many nights, we may also have to walk down and wake an individual who couldn’t make it till the end.”

Most of the films are family-friendly. “They are often all PG or G movies so the complete circle of relatives can watch and enjoy,” Voy said. “Disney actually makes that effortless for us.”

Each week’s double-header is announced on Monday. The theater also lists possible upcoming titles, like “Mulan” and “Wonder Woman 1984,” on its website. With new movie releases postponed due to the coronavirus, the theater can also show more classics this summer, like “Field of Dreams,” “The Goonies” or “Beetlejuice.”

To find out what films are playing, you can call the film tips line at (563) 674-4367 or stopover at 61-driveintheatre.com. Check online for any closings or restrictions due to the coronavirus. Making Maquoketa a day tripIf making plans a stop at the 61 Drive-in Theatre, you can even want to cross earlier in the day or make a weekend of it to move to other attractions in the Maquoketa area, a little more than an hour’s drive from Cedar Rapids.

The must-visit area most individuals think of is Maquoketa Caves State Park. It’s easiest to call – (563) 652-5833 – or check online at iowadnr.gov to make sure the caves, temporarily closed because of the coronavirus, have reopened.


The park has thirteen caves, the maximum of any other state park in Iowa, and you can easily stopover at all of them in a day. Some, like Dancehall Cave, are huge sufficient to walk through, whilst others require crawling (so wear historic clothes and bring a flashlight).

The park also deals more than 7 miles of hiking trails, a campground and a good deal of picnicking spots.

Other options for outdoor occasions come with hiking at the 273-acre Prairie Creek Recreation Area or traversing the Maquoketa River Water Trail, wherein canoes and kayaks can be rented at Maquoketa River Rental.

Fans of indie tune can also be ready to ride a hayrack down to the Codfish Hollow Barnstormers, with live music on a barn degree.

Go online to codfishhollowbarnstormers.com for an updated time table and any virus-related cancellations or restrictions.

Racing fans may also be in a position to head out to the Maquoketa Speedway at the Jackson County Fairgrounds to watch overdue models, modifieds, highway stocks, game mods, hobby stocks and four-cylinders race.

Combine your looking and dining with a visit to Farmers Creek Antiques/Mac’s Wine Cellar. Or catch reside music at Ohnward Fine Arts Center (ohnwardfineartscenter.com), where an Elvis tribute exhibit and a polka birthday party are tentatively planned for this summer.

Be sure and check online before you pass for any virus-related closings, regulations and cancellations.

By Carrie Campbell, for The Gazette

Give us feedback
We cost your accept as true with and paintings hard to deliver fair, exact coverage. If you have discovered an blunders or omission in our reporting, tell us here.
Or if you have a tale idea we deserve to look into?

Tell us here.



Give us feedback
We cost your believe and paintings hard to provide fair, proper coverage. If you have found an errors or omission in our reporting, tell us here.
Or if you have a story idea we deserve to appearance into?

Tell us here.


Related Post