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Owner: Fundraising campaign to be revamped

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 1:15 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 12:41 p.m. CST
Caption
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/mkrabbenhoeft@saukvalley.com)
Mike Kerz, who owns The Midway Drive-In and Diner with his wife, Mia, stands in the projector room next to the 35 mm projector holding a reel of film. A fundraising drive to raise money to convert the drive-in from film projection to digital fell short, but the Kerzes plan to open the 2013 season in April as planned. They will make another fundraising effort in the spring.
Caption
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/mkrabbenhoeft@saukvalley.com)
For the past 100 years, drive-in theaters have been showing movies on 35 mm film reels like these at the Midway Drive-In and Diner between Sterling and Dixon.
Caption
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/mkrabbenhoeft@saukvalley.com)
The Midway Drive-In features a '50s-style consession stand. The drive-in makes very little of its money on the sale of admission tickets. Most of its profits come from the sale of food and snack items.

DIXON – The lights will remain on at Midway Drive-In and Diner, at least for a little longer.

Mike and Mia Kerz, owners of the historic drive-in between Sterling and Dixon, fell short of their fundraising goal for the first phase of a digital transformation.

The pair launched a 2-month campaign on Aug. 2 to raise $40,000 to help pay for a digital projector and necessary upgrades to house it, a project that will cost about $125,000.

Because of a major technology upgrade in the film industry, theaters must have digital projectors to continue showing movies. For the past 100 years, theaters have shown 35 mm film.

The Kerzes raised $7,536 through an online fundraising site called kickstarter.com.

Under the rules of kickstarter, unless a fundraising campaign raises the entire amount – $40,000 in this case – all money is returned to the donors.

About $1,000 was raised in donation at the theater’s diner, Mike said.

Money raised in the first phase was going to be used to pay for renovations needed to house a new projector, to upgrade the audio system, and to install climate controls.

Phase 2 would include buying and installing the projector, which would cost about $80,000, and would be financed through loans, and phase 3 would maintain the projector.

Although the drive-in is closed for the season, the Kerzes are busy planning how to open next year.

“In the spring, we’ll regroup and launch another fundraiser and awareness campaign,” Mike said. “Our goal is to preserve the Midway Drive-In and keep it going.”

The theater is scheduled to open in April, and Mike hopes he will be able to continue to get access to 35mm film.

“We are really, really hoping there’ll be some film available,” he said. “If we’re able to convert to digital, we won’t have to worry about getting film prints. The plan now is to hope that there are still some films being released in 2013 and that we can do that while we’re working on fundraising for digital conversion.”

Mike said he appreciates the words of encouragement and support he and Mia received from the community.

For Mike, the Midway represents “the finest of family values and American values.”

“It’s really something magical about the drive-in,” he said. “When you pull up the driveway and enter the box office and you see the parking lot and the screen, it’s really magical.

“You’re entering a safe environment, where the harsh realities of the outside world are forgotten.”

Kerz said he had seen and heard of some theaters in the state that successfully used kickstarter.com to fund projects. He hopes the same will come true for the Midway.

“We are confident that the community will help us preserve the Midway Drive-In,” he said. “Our goal is to keep something going that everyone grew up with.”

Show must go on

To stay updated on the latest happenings and news on the Midway Drive-In and Diner, visit its website at themidwaydrivein.net and its Facebook page.

 

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