Abbey Gardens will be converting its gravel pit into a drive-in theatre starting July 22 until the end of the summer.

Lesley English, who is on the Little Pit Drive-In committee, issued a press release July 10 to announce the initiative.

She said it will be Canada’s first off-grid drive-in with Brian Nash of Haliburton Solar and Wind just one of the many partners in the project.

English said other partners include the Haliburton County Development Corporation, Those Other Movies; everyone at Abbey Gardens; and the Little Pit Crew. 

“Earlier this year, a small group of volunteers came together to reimagine theatre-going as a community building experience during a global pandemic,” English said.

She said they asked questions such as: how can we bring people together in a way that is safe and still builds community?; what kind of event can we create that will raise awareness of Abbey Gardens and appeal to a broad cross section of people?; and, what would underscore Abbey Gardens mission to educate the community about living more sustainably in a way that is fun and impactful?”

She said the answer was a drive-In, but “not just any drive-in but one which is powered by solar and wind energy.”

Nash said, “they’re going to be powering the drive-in from our off-grid office.” To do that, he said they’d be plugging in a long extension cord, using about 720 watts over a six-hour period. The local company is donating its solar and wind supply.

Planning committee member Barb Bolin said, “We have lost so many of the cultural outings that we in Haliburton are used to having in our backyard but are not able to access this summer. Abbey Gardens and its partners see the Little-Pit drive-In as a safe way of inviting the community to a fun outing and the opportunity to get to know us better.”

On Wednesday evenings at sunset for the duration of the summer, the Little Pit Drive-In @ Abbey Gardens will be screening double features of both old and new movies.

“From horror flicks, a drive-in staple, to frothy, feel good British comedies and everything in between, The Little Pit will have something for everyone,” English said. She added that special live intermission attractions are also in the works.

The committee, which also comprises Barr Gilmore, Heather Reid and Tammy Rea, will also serve as a ‘proof of concept’ and model for other theatre-type events that will demonstrate how presenters can present and communities can still support the arts, and live entertainment in a safe, enjoyable environment,” English said.

To ensure the safety and well being of guests, she added that current COVID-19 restrictions will be in place for the duration of summer 2020.

She expects a strong demand for tickets since there will be only 30 spots.

People can book tickets through the website (abbeygardens.ca/littlepitdrivein) in advance.

The cost is $50 per car, including complimentary popcorn. People can pre-order food and beverages. There will be car service for everything but beer. It can be purchased from Haliburton Highlands Brewing before the movies or during intermission. Doors will open at approximately 8.30 p.m. for a 9:15 p.m. show.

Abbey Gardens is a non-profit, charitable organization that provides economic and recreational opportunities while furthering our mission to educate our community about living more sustainably and restoring our social and natural environment.

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