There are not many of these left as it is, and now there's one less in South Dakota.

Drive-Ins are an endangered species in 2023, and the Sioux Empire is down another one after word came out that the Starlite Drive-In in Mitchell will not be opening for the 2023 summer outdoor movie season.

Dakota News Now reported on Thursday, (May 4) one of the remaining drive-in theatres in the Sioux Falls area is calling it quits again, due to the lack of patronage over the past couple of seasons.

Hot 104.7 - KKLS-FM logo
Get our free mobile app

MORE: Remember the East Park and Starlite Drive-in Theaters in Sioux Falls?

In a statement released to the public on social media Thursday, the Starlite Drive-In Theatre said, "It did not meet expenses in 2021 or 2022, noting several slow weekends."

The drive-in theatre had just actually re-opened in 2020 after taking a seven-year hiatus prior to that.

After the pandemic hit in 2020 the Starlite Drive-In made the decision to fire up the outdoor big screen again because it provided the public with a safe and fun way to get out of the house and enjoy some entertainment.

According to Dakota News Now, the Starlite Theatre claims attendance levels that year rivaled those of the heydays for drive-in theatres back in the 1970s. However, attendance levels began to wane once again during some weekends in 2021 and 2022 and the drive-in was unable to meet expenses. Movie studio requirements also played a role in their decision not to open for the 2023 season.

With the Starlite Theatres closure, there is now only one remaining drive-in open here in the Sioux Empire. The Verne Drive-In in Luverne, Minnesota. That popular outdoor theatre is still going strong and is only a 30-minute drive east of Sioux Falls.

Sioux Falls actually had two drive-in theatres back in the day, The Starlite and the East Park Drive-In. I gave quite a bit of my hard-earned money to both throughout the 70s and early 80s.

The East Park was the first to close in 1978, while the Sioux Falls Starlite Theatre kept its projector running a little longer, showing its last outdoor movie in July of 1985.

The next time you and your friends start to reminisce about the old days in Sioux Falls, you can lay this little nugget of information on them. The last two movies shown at the Sioux Falls Starlite Drive-In were the blockbusters Just One of the Guys starring William Zabka (yep, the Karate Kid guy), and the movie 2010, featuring Roy Scheider and John Lithgow. At least there was a little more star power in that flick.

At last check, there are still 6 Drive-In theatres left in South Dakota. One in Winner, one in Hermosa, one in Mobridge, one in Miller, one in Gregory, and one in Redfield, South Dakota.

All you drive-In theatre lovers now have six excellent road trip destinations for the summer. Enjoy!

Source: Dakota News Now

Here Are The 7 Remaining Drive-In Theaters In South Dakota

If you were born last know, in the nineteen hundreds (ugh) may have spent a summer evening in the car watching movies. I don't mean on your phone, I mean at the drive-in movie theater!

If you were in Sioux Falls in the 1970s and '80's you may remember seeing Jaws and Indiana Jones at The East Park or the Starlite Drive-In. Both drive-ins opened just after World War 2. The East Park didn't make it out of the '70s, closing in 1978. The Starlite survived long enough to see the birth of home video, closing in 1985.

Drive-in movies had a bit of a resurgence during the pandemic. They were a way to go out and do something social without getting out of your car.

If you tried one during that time, or you remember the fun of a warm summer evening watching movies on that giant screen there are still places in South Dakota and around Sioux Falls you can do it.

32 Things to Do in Sioux Falls This Summer That Are Absolutely Free!

Sure, there are tons of things to do in the Sioux Empire every summer, but if your entertainment budget is small (or zero), we have the solution - actually, we have lots of solutions.

Here is a list of family-friendly (and some, just adult-friendly) events happening this summer in the Sioux Falls area that you should check out. Oh, the best part, everything on this list is FREE.


More From Hot 104.7 - KKLS-FM