Family fun under the stars: the Sparta Drive-In

Posted By | July 6, 2005 12:00 am

Jody Sliger
With all the fun, family-friendly atmosphere of the 50’s, Sparta Drive-In is ready to entertain the entire clan.
Tommy Brown, manager of the Sparta Drive-In said, “Come out one time, and you will be back. The movies are some of the hottest releases, the food is freshly made and extremely good, and the entire staff will do everything possible to give you your money’s worth.”
The beginning of the drive-in movie is attributed to a man named Richard Hollingshead – a young man who combined his two interests, cars and movies, and after trials of how to position cars, figuring out how to amplify the sound and how to project the images on a large screen, was granted a patent for the first drive-in Theater, May 16, 1933 – in New Jersey.
More than 4,000 drive-in movie theaters were in operation in 1958, but few are in operation today. Sparta is home to one of only 14 drive-in theaters still operating in the great state of Tennessee – and family fun is right here in the backyard.
Special movie extravaganzas complete with prizes and up to four movies in one night, called the ‘dusk to dawn’ movie night were scheduled throughout the summer, especially for holiday weekends. Information on upcoming special events can be discovered by calling or checking out the website.
Heavy speakers used to have to be attached to the car window but now moviegoers can tune the radio to 88.1, sit back, relax and enjoy the movie. Alternatively, they have portable radios that can be used.
The concession stand offers freshly made burgers, patty melts, hot dogs and much more and, of course, plenty of popcorn and Pepsi.
They also allow customers to bring their own coolers and snacks, just no grill or alcohol. Safety is a key issue, because the staff wants to maintain the family friendly atmosphere.
Early birds pick the prime spots but according to some on the back rows, there is not a bad place on the lot.
The playground is open for the younger kids to enjoy before the movies start and at each intermission. In addition, the area just below the big screen offers a place to toss around a Frisbee or a football.
“This coming weekend we will have ‘Fantastic Four’ and ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’, both rated PG-13 and then the following weekend we will carry over ‘Fantastic Four’ and have the new Star Wars movie ‘Episode III – Revenge of the Sith,’” said Brown.
With the speakers blasting with nostalgic music, sometimes it is hard to keep the feet from tapping or even taking a few dance steps.
The gates open at 7 p.m., with the movie starting around 8 p.m. Adults ticket cost $5, children 6-12 get in for $2 and children five and under are admitted free.
Movies are shown rain or shine. The theater is located at 220 Roberts-Matthews Highway.
Movie listings are subject to change so call 739-8000 or check for updates online at

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