SOUTHINGTON — The town’s drive-in plans to show a live Garth Brooks concert later this month that could pave the way for more concerts and an early reopening of family movie showings.
Encore Live is airing the country music star performing live at hundreds of drive-in theaters across the country on June 27.
Town leaders decided to close the town-owned drive-in on Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike this season over concerns about families gathering before the movie.
Drive-in committee members said the Garth Brooks concert will have fewer children and have measures in place to prevent contact.
“We feel like it’s sort of a good starting point to see how it would go if we opened the Southington Drive-in,” said Dawn Miceli, a committee member.
Town leaders have come up with rules to limit contact between concert-goers.
People have to stay in their cars, which will be spaced six feet from each other. Bathrooms will be open but will have different traffic patterns. Concessions won’t be available.
“People have to realize, it is going to be different,” Miceli said. “There are limitations but we’re hopeful that if all goes well with it, it will lead to our regular season.”
Proceeds to civic groups
During the normal season, local civic groups provide volunteers to help run the drive-in and receive a portion of ticket sales. Miceli said with major town events such as the Italian Festival cancelled, civic groups don’t have their usual opportunities to raise money.
The Garth Brooks tickets cost $100 per car load. Drive-in committee member Michael Riccio said the town will receive about $20 per ticket which will go to the civic groups. He expects the show to sell out.
“We saw it as a way to provide some summer entertainment and also get some revenue to our local charities,” Riccio said.
Tickets cannot be purchased at the gate and must be purchased online. More information can be found at www.encorelive.com.
Unlike the family movies shown at the drive-in, organizers expect the Garth Brooks concert to draw fewer children. Town leaders canceled the drive in season since families gather before the movie, a concern during a pandemic, and because civic groups have to provide volunteers to run the drive-in. They’ll consider a reopening later this summer.
Encore Live is providing nearly all the personnel to run the drive-in. They’ll have people making sure distancing rules are maintained.
“We’re using Garth as a test,” Riccio said. “If people don’t follow the rules, we won’t have any more shows.”
Encore Live has other concerts planned such as Billy Joel, The Eagles and other country music stars, according to Riccio. Those additional concerts are broadcast during the week and wouldn’t conflict with the weekend movie showings when they resume.
Riccio said he wasn’t sure if the concert could lead to family movie showings in July. Miceli was optimistic.
“The drive-in committee is hopeful that this concert will lead to use opening up earlier,” she said.