Spud Drive-In

2175 S. Highway 33,
Driggs, ID 83422

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StanMalone
StanMalone on April 16, 2015 at 4:24 pm

I have been to this drive in. 1994, September. This area is on the western side of the Tetons (in the appropriately named Teton County) and is not as spectacular as the eastern side above Jackson Hole. Still, it was a very nice town and included a drug store with an old fashioned soda fountain where they served hand made milk shakes. Going into the drug store as well as the drive in had a going back to the 50’s feel.

At the time of my visit the schools were out on a two week “spud break.” In fact, the entire town seemed to be focused on getting the potato crop in so it definitely had a different feel to things. The only thing that did not seem to be affected was the high school football team with the courageously politically incorrect name of the “Bombers.” Their practice and game schedule continued on uninterrupted.

As for the drive in, it was a nice little well run establishment. Driggs sits in something of a flat valley so while you were parked on the field it seemed like you could see for miles. The snack bar had a lot of character and the people were friendly.

I am glad to see that they were able to make the transition to digital, although as the article mentioned there is a lot more to it than just installing a new projector. The expense of upkeep, updates, and bulb changes will be much greater than with the film projector and they will go on forever.

Good luck to them.

Chris1982
Chris1982 on November 20, 2014 at 5:12 pm

A article from PreservationNationBlog: Anyone who owns — or has tried to buy — a camera any time in the past 10 years knows that digital photography has replaced film almost entirely. This transformation has not been limited to still pictures; digital is now king at the movies, too, which has created challenges at many older movie theaters.

The Spud Drive-In in Driggs, Idaho, is no exception. The theater, which opened in 1953 (and celebrates its 60th birthday this week) has long been a beloved part of the community, but has faced closure twice in recent years — first from management changes, and then from the transition to digital projection.

Local fans rallied with Facebook outreach that reached thousands, and to date enough “Save the Spud” t-shirts have been sold to cover half the cost of a new digital projector. (They’re still available — get ‘em while they’re hot!)

When asked about the transition, the Spud’s manager (and former co-owner) Dawnelle Mangum found both pluses and minuses to the change. On the upside, the new projector’s bulb, at 6,000 watts, is twice as powerful as its predecessor, allowing them to start movies 10 minutes earlier. She says that “10 minutes is big — 9:40 as opposed to 9:50 for our longest day.”

The trade-off, Mangum says, is in the frequent updates the projector requires (which she says are fairly equivalent to a typical computer) and the life expectancy of the new machine.

“The projector we replaced for hummed along for well over 60 years,” she says. “It was purchased used in 1953. No digital projector has that kind of life expectancy.”

Saving the Spud as a drive-in theater has also preserved one of its most beloved attractions: a giant potato on the back of a truck, which Roadside America calls “a novelty postcard come to life in three dimensions.” And indeed, Mangum and her former husband — who designed and built the potato and set it on the back of a 1946 flat bed truck in 1990 — were inspired by classic postcards.

She takes great pride in its ongoing appeal: “People in the valley claim that more pictures are taken of the truck with the potato on it than the Teton Mountains here on the west of our valley.”

Mangum and fans of the Spud are planning a big celebration for the drive-in’s birthday this week, featuring hula hoops and slinkies (two other American icons that arrived on the scene in 1953). And thanks to those devoted fans, the Spud has many more birthdays to come.

jwmovies
jwmovies on December 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm

The above address is incorrect. The address for this drive-in is 2175 South Highway 33.

SteveSwanson
SteveSwanson on May 16, 2012 at 8:16 am

Interesting that the website is down, but the phone message is current. Running first run films on a 2-day schedule.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on February 2, 2010 at 8:36 pm

You do not see that every day.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on February 2, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Cool name for a drive in.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on February 19, 2009 at 12:23 pm

For the record, that style of truck is called a COE, Cab Over Engine. There is a collector following for such trucks. They are not always flatbeds.
There were tow-trucks and other models that had the driver situated over the engine. Hence the pug nose.

Ajardine
Ajardine on March 28, 2008 at 9:21 am

The Spud Drive In has the best hamburgers I have ever had. The carmel popcorn is to die for. But don’t take my word for it try one on for size.

qwo06
qwo06 on October 14, 2006 at 5:18 pm

Smith is right, that truck is ugly.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 11, 2006 at 5:31 pm

I love the potato. What a great idea!

http://tinyurl.com/hhmlr

DaveGrau
DaveGrau on August 11, 2004 at 6:11 pm

It is just amazing to see a Drive-In still up and running, I hope they have allot of success. Keep up the good work.
Dave Grau