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Spotlight on Mt. Sterling: Support for Judy Drive-In 'runs deep'

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Posted at 10:52 AM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 19:18:04-04

MT. STERLING, Ky. (LEX 18) — They're few and far between, but the love for the drive-in movie theatre runs deep, according to the passionate manager at the Judy Drive-In in Mt. Sterling.

"It's just something that gets in your blood," manager Chris Erwin said.

His family owns the Judy Drive-In, which has been around for nearly 70 years. It first opened back in July 1952.

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Since then, there have been four or five different owners, all locals.

"You love pleasing people," Erwin said. "You love entertaining people and this is a unique way of doing it and I happen to be in love with it and you have to be."

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Loving the allure of the drive-in theater also means having a love for mixing the new with the old.

"You can't make it just off playing Grease week in and week out, but people like the nostalgia feel," Erwin said.

Keeping with the nostalgia, the Judy still operates with the original screen, lot, and building. Oldies are played over the radio before the movie starts. These are paired with new release movies to keep people coming back again and again.

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Erwin said it's a winning combination, but then the pandemic hit.

"At first we didn't know what was going to happen," Erwin said.

But he quickly learned the Judy could weather the storm.

"It worked out great because people can have something they enjoy in their life yet have that security and safety and social distancing," he said.

Cars spaced out in an open field kept people socially distanced. An online ticketing system and food ordering app allowed for contactless service.

As we're starting to come out of the pandemic, the new tech will stay. So will the screen, the original lot, and Chris Erwin, who believes the future of the Judy Drive-In is bright. He hopes his daughter will take over one day so that other families from all over can come and enjoy it for years to come.

Currently, the Judy Drive-In is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. Adults pay $9 and kids pay $4. Kids under the age of 5 can watch for free.