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A drive-in theater will be created in the fairground's yellow parking lot, slated to be done later this summer

In its search to find activities for the community at the Clackamas County Event Center during the COVID-19 pandemic, staff at the fairgrounds is turning to the big screen.

The really big screen.

The Clackamas County Fair Board has approved plans to move ahead with the creation of a drive-in movie site at the fairgrounds. It will be located in the yellow parking lot facing the rodeo grounds. It's an exciting step and one that will be permanent once completed, said Tyler Nizer, marketing and events coordinator for the fairgrounds.

With all events slated for the fairgrounds canceled through September, coming up with ideas to generate revenue and keep the event center grounds safely active became the focus of CCEC staff.

PHOTO BY JOHN BAKER - There won't be a Clackamas County Fair this summer at the fairgrounds in Canby, but later this summer there will be drive-in movies available.

"In the midst of brainstorming ideas when COVID hit, we were trying to see how we could still bring great entertainment to the community," said Nizer. "We thought that this meets the requirements for COVID — people can still get out in public, but there is the distancing."

Nizer said that once the idea popped, there were plenty of hoops to jump through to make it happen, "and we're still in the midst of those hoops right now."

Nizer and his staff enlisted the help of Kyle Lang at the Canby Chamber, which led to a partnership with Canby Cinema 8. In building the permanent 60 foot by 36 foot screen, they are partnering with Wilson Construction.

"We wanted something engineered so it was built with quality," said Nizer. "We've got the draft right now and that will be finalized soon. The project calls for 150 yards of concrete for the screen portion — it's like a huge sail up there, so we need to make sure it's anchored really well."

In a perfect world, Nizer said he'd love to get the drive-in up and running by the first of July, but admitted that isn't likely to happen. With still plenty to do, folks likely won't be going to the drive-in until late July or even into August. It will take time, but the drive-in will come.

Nizer said that the project cost isn't clear yet as they are still in the planning phase.

"Right now, the community and businesses have been really good about donating goods and services, so we're not really sure yet (of the total cost)," he said.

Once completed, and thanks to their partnership with Canby Cinema 8, the drive-in will be able to offer a mix of first-run and older movies.

And what shall we call it, you ask? Nizer said that a name for the new theater will likely come from the community.

"We are asking the community to check out our Facebook page and suggest names (for the theater)," said Nizer.


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