Stateline Drive-In starts its 72nd year

Published 8:24 am Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Stateline Drive-In, known locally as simply Stateline, located on Highway 19E between Elizabethton and Hampton, has been an iconic part of the Carter County experience since 1947. The drive-in continues to attract long lines and a loyal patronage after surviving stiff competition from big box seated theaters and expensive need for modernizing.

Stateline has changed hands several times throughout its long history before its current owner, Andy Wetzel, who along with his wife Jenny bought the drive-in in 1995.

In 2014 the theater faced possible closure because it was still using decades old equipment that was mechanical and becoming more obsolete. However, with the help of the community, Stateline won an online contest put on by Honda and was able to purchase a digital projector, valued at $80,000, as well as renovate the film room.

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According to Wetzel, drive-in theaters such as his are slowly dying out as there are only 350 left in the United States. He said he finds it nostalgic when older customers closer to his age bring their kids to experience a form of entertainment that has long seen its heyday.

“We have also added digital sound, so we do not have the old speakers now,” Wetzel said. Moviegoers will now be able to listen to audio by tuning to a radio station in their car.

“Our main goal and objective is very simple,” added Wetzel. “We want to provide a clean, comfortable and safe environment where families can come to enjoy a night out that doesn’t break them up in the pocketbook.”

The seasonal entertainment for this year kicked off in March and winds down around September and offers a new feature every weekend from Friday though Sunday with a double lineup on major holiday weekends, such as Easter and Memorial Day. Movies are at various times but always start at dark. More information about movies and show times is available by calling 423-542-5422.