The Midway Drive-in located between Paola and Osawatomie is one of only a handful of drive-in movie theaters left in Kansas, and it now has new life thanks to Heather and Michael Wood.
The Osawatomie couple purchased the drive-in earlier this year and announced plans to keep it in operation while also using the location for other events, such as swap meets.
The Woods realize it’s not exactly an ideal time for a new business venture as Michael is working full-time and Heather is also working full-time from home while caring for their youngest child and three school-age children — all in the midst of a global pandemic.
Still, Heather said it was an opportunity they felt they couldn’t pass up.
“We wanted to have something in the community to call ours and support other local businesses, too,” she said.
Ultimately, Heather said they would like to maintain the drive-in weekend evening experience while also utilizing the space for things like swap meets, car shows, weddings and other events.
That plan is now closer to becoming reality after the Miami County commissioners, during their Dec. 23 meeting, unanimously approved a rezoning request that will allow for the additional events to take place on the property. The zoning changed from Countryside (CS) to Commercial (C-2).
“This is a real jewel to the county,” Commissioner George Pretz said. “The facility is approaching 70 years old. And what it’s amounting to is we’re adding additional activities that can be done in this area. I think it’s a win-win for the county and community, and I want to thank everybody involved with it. And I want to thank the Woods for purchasing the ground and trying to make it work.”
The Woods purchased the drive-in from Paul and Anna Dimoush, who had owned it for more than a decade.
Anna said the business became too time-consuming for her and her husband, who also farms. Anna’s health also was taken into consideration.
“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “I’ve had too many strokes and can’t work the ticket booth anymore.”
The sale was for the business and equipment, including the digital upgrades that were purchased in 2013 using funds raised from a “Save the Midway Drive-in campaign.”
“We wish them all the luck in the world,” Anna said.