As an inventive way to let area residents enjoy Champion Park, which is home to historic trains and railway structures, the Town of Okotoks and Foothills County will be hosting movie screenings at the park grounds on Sept. 10 and 11.
“It's just a way to have people out there and experiencing the park in a different way and still getting people out there,” said Okotoks community events specialist Zach Adams. “You get to hang out at Champion Park and watch movies.”
After the success of drive-in theatre events at the Okotoks Recreation Centre, the town wanted to hold showings elsewhere.
The Champion Park showings, however, will be not in cars, but on the grass, Adams said, and moviegoers are encouraged to bring their own blankets or lawn chairs.
Hitting the screen at the park will be two films with prominent Western themes involving railroads: Wild Wild West and Back to the Future 3.
“We traditionally have an open house at Champion Park every year, but with COVID, obviously things changed, we didn’t know if we would be able to have it.” Adams said.
“When it came time to have it, we didn’t have any of the regular maintenance done that would normally be done for it to happen in early August, because we didn’t know if we would even be able to open the park.
“So we wanted to have a way to get people out there without going into the areas that aren't ready for them that still lets them be able to enjoy the park, but in a different kind of way.”
To round out the experience, he added, Okotoks Cinemas will have a concession on-site.
When gates open at 8 p.m., visitors will be able to explore the park before the film.
“It’s a really cool collection of trains and buildings, and a pond with a walking path,” Adams said.
“With COVID, there’s obviously not been a lot of things that people were able to do, so this is a great way to get outside, and if people are still a little hesitant with indoor gatherings, they can come out to an outdoor park, see the trains, and get to catch a movie with their family.”
Champion Park and its historic railway fixtures were collected and built by Gerald L. Knowlton as a tribute to the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and to his parents Faye and Frederick (Ted) Knowlton, the latter of whom was a CPR station agent in the town of Standard, Alta. for 42 years.
The park was gifted to the Town of Okotoks and Foothills County by the Knowlton family in 2016 and the Friends of Champion Park Society non-profit organization was subsequently formed to share the maintenance and operation of the park.
While Adams said the Champion Park open house will return, the potential for future movie nights will be gauged by response to this month’s.
The gates open for the Sept. 10 and 11 screenings at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 8:30 p.m.
Attendees can explore the Champion Park grounds, but no buildings or vehicles will be open for touring. Washrooms will be available on site.
Tickets are $5 per vehicle, but as the event is not a drive-in style event, patrons are encouraged to dress for the weather and bring their own lawn chairs and blankets.
For more information, visit www.okotoks.ca/ChampionParkMovie