The first drive in theater to be opened in the state of Illinois is The Midway Drive In And Diner located in Sterling, Illinois in 1950. The Midway is home to the oldest drive in theater screen in Illinois, making it an official historical landmark.
The Midway received a complete renovation in 2007 when it was purchased by Mike and Mia Kerz. The screen tower was refurbished and painted, the projection booth equipment was upgraded, and the concession stand, the retro “spaceship” ticket booth, and the children’s playground were all restored to their original 50’s era glory. The Diner is set up in the classic self-serve drive in diner style and offers a variety of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, corn dogs, nachos, french fries, onion rings, fried cheese sticks, pizza, candy, ice cream, cotton candy, and popcorn. The Midway’s main resource for upgrading and maintaining the theater comes from the revenue generated by the Diner, therefore no outside food or drink is allowed.
The Midway has a capacity of up to 500 cars and they strive to recreate the drive in theater experience as best they can by playing oldies, classic cartoons, and drive in announcements before the presentation of the first feature film and the “dancing hot dog” intermission reel. The Midway will be celebrating its 60th anniversary of continuous service this year!