Vehicles arrive at the Bradley Ranch Winery’s 20-acre concert site in Elk Grove on the first day of a three-day Labor Day weekend drive-in music festival. (Photos by Steve Martarano)

Photos: Drive-In Events Fill the Void

Capital Region businesses and nonprofits shift movie screenings, concerts and other happenings outdoors during the pandemic

Back Photo gallery Oct 9, 2020 By Steve Martarano

Audience members watch a band composed of Elk Grove’s School of Rock students at the Bradley Ranch Winery drive-in concert Sept. 4.

Pop-up drive-ins appeared during the coronavirus summer of 2020, prompting many families in the Capital Region to turn their vehicles into personal entertainment bubbles.

Long Time, a Boston tribute band, plays to an audience who are inside and beside their vehicles at the Bradley Ranch Winery Sept. 4.

While Sacramento’s lone full-time drive-in theater, West Wind Sacramento Six Drive Ins & Public Market, was only closed for one week in March, says general manager Jamie Davis, other businesses and nonprofit organizations picked up on the drive-in model, utilizing spaces such as a winery and unused parking lots to create socially distanced entertainment options during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Customers line up at the food trucks at Westfield Galleria at Roseville parking lot before the Sept. 18 drive-in double feature.

“We pivoted from a model we’ve used for years,” says Lydia Bredin, events specialist for the Cordova Community Council, which, in conjunction with the City of Rancho Cordova, held a 100-vehicle, six-week drive-in concert series in the parking lot of the former Mine Shaft entertainment complex.

The family of Sean and Kristy Kelly of El Dorado Hills get ready to watch “Despicable Me” at the Westfield Galleria at Roseville parking lot Sept. 18.

The council, Bredin says, typically stages several free, popular public events during the summer, such as a Fourth of July celebration, and movies and concerts in Village Green Park. With large gatherings prohibited due to the pandemic, the idea hatched for the drive-in concerts. “We’ve received nothing but positive feedback,” Bredin says. The annual Heartstoppers Haunted House event in October will also be drive-in only.

There is room for 100 vehicles at the Westfield Galleria at Roseville parking lot for the Carpool Cinema series, as the movie “Despicable Me” plays Sept. 18.

The 50-acre Bradley Ranch Winery in Elk Grove, acquired by Matt Pratt and Heather Hartman-Pratt in 2017, regularly held weddings and other events at the former horse ranch before the pandemic forced those events to be canceled.

The band CCsegeR, who cover songs by Bob Seger and Creedence Clearwater Revival, performs at the Mine Shaft parking lot in Rancho Cordova Sept. 25.

Bradley Ranch worked with Spider Ranch Productions to host bands’ concerts for up to 200 vehicles (the Sacramento County limit for gatherings) on a 20-acre portion of their property. One show featured well-known country artist Chase Rice, and a country music festival is scheduled for Oct. 24.

Vehicles enter the parking lot of the former Mine Shaft entertainment center in Rancho Cordova before the Sept. 25 show.

“The pandemic pushed it along,” Hartman-Pratt says, adding that they plan on holding more vehicle-only concerts as long as COVID-19 restrictions continue.

People in the audience dance to CCsegeR Sept. 25, part of the Mineshaft Live concert series held in the parking lot of the old Mine Shaft entertainment complex in Rancho Cordova.

In Roseville, Carpool Cinema held a six-night outdoor movie series for up to 100 vehicles during September at the Westfield Galleria at Roseville parking lot, featuring family-friendly movies such as “Goonies” and “Despicable Me.”

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