Frederick Fairgrounds transforms into COVID-safe movie venue

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FREDERICK, Md. (WDVM) — The pandemic has caused many to go stir crazy but some could still be weary of indoor activities like eating inside of a restaurant or going to the movie theater. Organizers at Showtime Sound in Frederick wanted to provide a COVID-safe movie experience and will be transforming the Frederick Fairgrounds into a drive-in movie theater for select weekends in April, May, and June.

Shawn Hocherl is the Vice President of the Frederick-based company, Showtime Sound. His excitement for the event could be seen from behind his face mask.

“People just want to go out and feel some sense of normalcy. I think that with us and the partners that came together with this, [we] created this nice atmosphere for everybody to come out safely,” Hocherl said. “And it’s awesome like look at all the families in pickup trucks and cars, and [the] kids. It’s awesome.”

When cars arrived, they will be directed to a parking spot. Staff will be leaving one space between each vehicle to allow for social distancing.

Families will get the opportunity to see one or two movies from the comfort of their car. Marc Chauvin, the Director of Technical Operations at Showtime Sound, explained that the empty spaces allow for families to spread out while still following social distancing guidelines.

“It’s certainly safer than a regular movie theater. You’re not sitting right next to people, and, you know, groups can come out and enjoy their time,” Chauvin said.

Movies at the drive-in theater at the Fairgrounds can be shown both during the day and at night. The massive LED screen allows for daytime matinees which would normally not be possible with the projector. Hocherl explained that the sound for the film is transmitted through FM radio. He observed people playing the movie audio through their car radio systems or even bringing their own portable radios.

Katy Barnhart and her daughters, Alli and Cara, were more than excited to get out of the house for one of their favourite movies. Alli and Cara were dressed up as characters from the movie “Trolls” and were dancing along to the film.

“They love movies and they love going to the movie theater. We haven’t been able to do that for a year,” Barnhart said. “They love ‘Trolls’ so we figured this would be a good opportunity to do something that is safe and outside and fun for them and give them an opportunity to kinda go out and have something to do.”

For showtimes and the movie lineup, please visit the TPG Movie Nights website.

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