The talk around town is about the 30th anniversary year of Prairie Dog Drive-in. All the paraphernalia is still being sold at the concessions and signs are still announcing 30 years in business, but that year actually came and went last year.
“The real story here is that we are the first digital Drive-in in Saskatchewan,” said Ray Boutin, owner of the theatre. “We switched it all over this year to this big digital projector. Film was such a simpler time; the film projector had reached over 580 hours of play.”
The Drive-in was originally established in 1981 as Ken Par Cinema but Ray and Frances Boutin and their family took over the drive-in in 1996 and are celebrating their 16th year of business. The couple had been living in Winnipeg but jumped at the opportunity to purchase the business and relocate.
The movies all start at dusk but people line up along the road for up to half an hour before entering the grounds and purchasing a ticket. Tickets are merely $10 for adults, and popcorn, drinks, hot dogs, cheese dogs, nacho and chocolate bars are all sold at a fairly reasonable price.
The family’s two teenaged daughters, Janelle and Simone, can be seen playing the fiddle before show time, and serving hungry guests at the concessions. Both girls are extremely talented and friendly and are eager to answer any questions you may have.
“This year we are thinking about extending our season all the way through September,” explained Ray. “At least we are hoping to get some more movies in.”
Digital hard drives are quickly replacing the old canisters of 35mm film that have been around movie theatres for a century. The new projectors are priced at approximately $80,000 each, without counting the extra set up and sometimes replacing an outdated screen.
The new projector does however give a much clearer image and should be in working order for years to come. Perhaps the Prairie Dog will start a trend around Saskatchewan and give other Drive-ins the push they need to switch over. Viewers sure can notice a difference.
“None of this would be possible without our sponsors and amazing local support,” explained Ray. “The switch was fairly expensive, but we are lucky enough to be in a supportive community.”
To find out what movie is showing next weekend, just find one of the show bills located throughout Carlyle and surrounding areas. The schedule can also be found online at the family run website by searching Prairie Dog Drive-In or weekly in the Observer.