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Valle Drive-In to reopen after March 5 tornado, showing the film 'Twister'

The oldest drive-in movie theater in Iowa sustained EF1 damage from the same tornado that hit Winterset. It reopens this weekend with a double-feature.

NEWTON, Iowa — Is this heaven?

"No, this is Iowa," said Jeff Namminga, co-owner of the Valle Drive-In.

This Friday, five months to the day after the March 5th tornado, the historic movie theater surrounded by fields of corn will roll the projector once again.

Namminga didn't know the drive-in was hit until the next morning when he saw pictures and received calls from those driving by.

Credit: Jeff Namminga
Credit: Jeff Namminga

"I was just glad it wasn't something that happened while we were actually operating. If people were out here that could have been very tragic," Namminga said.

By the time the long-track tornado reached Jasper County, it was producing EF1 damage, not the EF4 damage that parts of Madison County saw. 

Five months later, after installing a new fence, replacing part of the screen, and securing the roof on the concession shop, Namminga is ready to roll the tape on Friday.

One of the movies being shown is incredibly ironic. The two co-features for opening weekend? "Top Gun Maverick" and "Twister."

An outpouring of support on social media has surprised Namminga, especially considering Valle Drive-in doesn't exactly make up most of his daily life.

"Both myself and the other family that own this have full time careers. The drive-in theater is not something that we rely on for our livelihood," Namminga said.

Despite the damage from last spring, Namminga sees the importance of continuing the Valle Drive-in.

"This is an experience. This is stepping back in time; it's a little bit of a slower pace," he said. "This is sitting down with friends and family, putting your phones away, and playing games."

Tickets are on sale for shows this weekend and can be bought ahead of time online. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for kids 5-11, and ages 4 and under get in for free. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and the features begin at dusk. 

Credit: WOI

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