By Don Lowe
Nearly 75 years since it originally opened, the Barco Drive-In continues bringing family entertainment to life for people of all ages and all walks of life for Lamar, Missoiuri, and surrounding communities.
Things have only gotten better in recent years with an upgrade to enhance everyone’s viewing pleasure, and current manager Scott Kelley explains, “The picture is clearer and sharper on all movies, but especially when it is in 4K.
“Top Gun Maverick and Jurassic World Dominion are presented in 4K format. This update was made in July 2020, when the new projector was installed.”
Kelley has a sense of pride in managing this icon in his hometown along with the Plaza Theatre. “I manage both theaters for the community betterment.”
As for the rich history of both theaters, Kelley fondly says, “Lamar Community Plaza Rescue (CPR) leases the Barco from Wanda Felts. Her husband, Butler, was at Barco when it started construction in the spring of 1949. He was the manager from 1950 and owner from 1968 until his death in August of 2008.
“My wife, Pam, and I met working for Butler when he owned the Nevada, Missouri, theaters, the Fox and Trail Drive-In. Our son, Zach, and daughter, Shari, have worked at both the Plaza and Barco. I’ve worked at both the Plaza and Barco off and on since high school.”
Kelley understands the nostalgia of drive-ins, and he describes what makes it all so special. “Drive-in theaters are known for being a place where people can relax and enjoy movies under the stars.
“We have customers who bring couches and La-Z-Boy recliners and make it like all the comforts of home. They get supper from the snack bar and enjoy the evening.”
While settings like this have dwindled dramatically over the decades, Kelley believes it is important for them to remain a vibrant part of communities. “At one time, there were more than 4,000 drive-ins. Now, less than 325 are open. We’ve got to keep drive-ins going. So, few are left now. We are very lucky to have them in this area.”
Kelley is thrilled to be at the forefront of helping residents and visitors experience the delights of a drive-in and he assures, “Working at both theaters is very enjoyable.
“It brings happiness to so many people. I enjoy watching all the families enjoy their evenings at the Barco and the Plaza.”
Barco Drive-In Fast Facts
Where: 57 South East 25th Lane, Lamar, Missouri (Note: Located on Highway 160, 1.5 miles east of the Lamar square)
Cost: $8 for adults and $4 for children ages 3-11 (Note: No charge for children under 3 years old)
Hours: Open Friday through Monday during the summer; only open Fridays and Saturdays during the spring and fall
Tune-In: Broadcasting in stereo sound on 87.9 FM
More Information: Call 417.682.2434 or email at [email protected]
Manager: Scott Kelley