Dubbo Westview Drive-In is emerging from an "absolutely devastating" setback at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to become one of the city's first attractions to reopen at the weekend as restrictions ease.
Drought and dust battered the emerging regional drawcard in the past year, before the virus shutdown forced its sell-out March event to be postponed four days out from kick-off.
"Serious discussions" about the future ensued, but with dedicated supporters and a $10,000 NSW government grant, it was finding a way forward, a spokesman for the drive-in operator said.
Working closely with Dubbo MP Dugald Saunders to liaise with NSW Health, a COVID safe plan had been approved, "which outlined how we were going to operate to keep ourselves and our patrons safe", he said.
The return of movies to the outdoor big screen will start with a screening of Shrek on Saturday night, and the June long weekend will feature 80s classics Footloose and The Man From Snowy River.
Having to postpone the Running on Empty event planned for March 21-22 was a huge blow.
"It was absolutely devastating, we had over a thousand people coming from right across four states, 75 different communities and we put a lot of work into that, especially coming out of the drought," the spokesman said.
Securing the $10,000 grant from the state government, available to small businesses highly-impacted by COVID-19, proved vital.
"We had some serious discussions that we couldn't continue, and it's not a lot of money, but it was enough to really help us pay the bills we had to pay and help us get some advice on how we keep going forward," the spokesman said.
Worldwide interest in drive-ins amid the pandemic was also "encouraging".
"We started working with our distributors, and we thought well if there's a demand, and there's really not much on, and talking to parents, there's no sport, there's not a lot on, where people can go out with their families," the spokesman said.
"...we're really looking forward to having everyone back out there and seeing the smiles on everyone's faces again."
One keen patron is Dubbo businessman and car fan Chris Seton, a sponsor of the Running on Empty event.
He's been a regular since the drive-in started again after a three-decade break.
"When I was a kid, that was the thing we did on Saturday night, we all came over to the drive-in, especially when you turned 16, 17, it was the place to go," he said.
"So it's like old times."
Details about tickets and COVID measures are available on the drive-in's website.