Oldham Co. drive-in closed after wind damages big screen

Thousands were excited to see the nostalgic drive-in finally open - then it was knocked to the ground.

Strong winds take down big screen at Oldham County drive-in

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - LA GRANGE, KY (WAVE) - A small but intense storm Wednesday night did major damage to a brand new Oldham County drive-in.

The big screen at Sauerbeck Family Drive-in was knocked to the ground by 40-50 mile per hour winds. The planned showing of a “Jumanji” double feature never happened, because the winds came in and took down the screen in a matter of minutes.

A summer of anticipation delighted thousands of customers excited to see the nostalgic drive-in finally open - before it was knocked to the ground.

The Sauerbeck Family Drive-in movie screen before the storm.
The Sauerbeck Family Drive-in movie screen before the storm. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The Sauerbeck Family Drive-in movie screen after the storm.
The Sauerbeck Family Drive-in movie screen after the storm. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

Heavy wind and rain took down the 40-by-80-foot screen at the new drive-in that opened on August 10. The outdoor movie spot is so new that the road going into the complex and its sidewalks are just getting finished.

“I’m shocked. I thought that this was thoroughly designed,” owner Stephen Sauerbeck said of the screen, “so that it would never collapse.”

Sauerbeck said when an employee called him around 6:30 p.m. to say the screen was damaged, he was hoping it was only a panel or two. But he arrived to find a mangled mess.

“I live and work two miles from here and it didn’t even rain," he said.

Sauerbeck also couldn’t believe how fast it happened, he said as he ran down the timeline.

“6:25, blue skies, nothing happening; 6:29, it turns black, the screen comes down; 6:32, it’s cleared back out again,” he said.

The rest of the property wasn’t touched--a trashcan nearby only moved 10 feet. The owner is thankful no one was hurt.

The majority of the screen was built off-site and trucked in. Engineers will now have to look at the structure to figure out exactly what happened.

Whether they rebuild, or get a temporary inflatable screen, the drive-in is closed until further notice. After getting through several zoning hurdles to open the property, that’s hard for the family to accept.

“We finally get to the point where we make it work,” Sauerbeck said, “and now we’ve got a small piece of it to start over.”

So when will the drive-in be back open again? The owner said there probably won’t be a permanent replacement until next season.

A drive-in movie at the The Sauerbeck Family Drive-in before the collapse.
A drive-in movie at the The Sauerbeck Family Drive-in before the collapse. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

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