The original "Rodeo Motor Movies" was built in 1949 as part of the United Drive-Ins chain (the Forman-Pacific folks of California). Its single field could hold over 600 cars, with concession and projection facilities in the front-center of the field (shown below). Our county would eventually be home to 3 drive-ins; including the "Kitsap Lake Drive-In", which was located closer to the Bremerton city limits, and the family-owned "Big Bear Drive-In", located between Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island.

In 1977, the Rodeo and Kitsap Lake Drive-Ins were sold to Cascade/Seven Gables Cinemas, a small chain with headquarters in Seattle. In addition to these two drive-ins, Cascade operated several indoor theatres in Seattle and Tacoma.

In 1978, Cascade logged out the back property of the Rodeo and added 2 more fields, a new snack bar and a new boxoffice complex. One year later, they closed the Kitsap Lake Drive-In, eventually making way for other commercial development there. In 1986, the Rodeo Drive-In was sold to Jack and Cindy Ondracek & family, and Cascade's remaining theatres became part of California's "Landmark Cinemas" chain. The Big Bear Drive-In closed in 1994, and the Rodeo became the only outdoor theatre serving Kitsap and north Mason Counties.

Today, with 3 screens and a total car capacity of about 1,000, the Rodeo is the largest outdoor theatre complex in Washington State and by far the largest and oldest family owned drive-in in the Northwest.

Nationally, about 400 drive-ins remain in the US, accounting for about 900 outdoor screens. Drive-in theatres have enjoyed a "rediscovery" of sorts. Today, drive-ins are nearly as well attended as when your parents... maybe even your grandparents spent their weekend evenings at the outdoor picture show.

Drive-in theatres are special places, with a nostalgic atmosphere that can't be found in an indoor theatre. Stop by soon, and discover the magic of movies under the stars at the Rodeo Drive-In!


Brand new and ready to open. The 'Rodeo' on the day before opening in 1949. Ironically, it seems the owners named the place without really knowing what 'Rodeo' was supposed to mean. Though we note the cow and horse drawing on the back of the screen, there are no such activities in our area. In a promotional move that has us scratching our heads, the owners appealed to the public to belatedly explain what they'd done. The local paper published one of the more creative responses... "Right On De Entertainment Order"

We're still trying to figure that one out!

The Rodeo Drive-In has been a family enterprise since 1986. Over the years, every member of our family has had a hand in the operation, including film booking and advertising, ticket and concession sales, food preparation, parking and security, cleaning the fields and running the theatre's projectors.

An Evening in Field 3
Here's a picture of Field 3. In 1990, we removed the speaker poles and went exclusively FM Stereo for sound. Our customers like these fields for tossing pre-show frisbees, since they don't have to worry about running into a post! After a short period of adjustment, the exclusive FM sound concept has worked very well here. On a warm night it's easy to pick out the people who've invested the big bucks in their stereo systems!

Truck Man
Here's a creative seating arrangement. You can roll down your windows or open the doors, turn up the radio and enjoy the show! These pictures were taken as part of a feature in our local paper.

Aerial drive-in
This aerial shot from 1987 shows screens 2 and 3 in the back. The original screen 1 is below the picture border. The present snack bar with booth on top is in the middle of the complex. The original 1949 concession/booth building for what was then the only screen (1) is in the center of the lower field. The back fields are not paved and have filled in with grass over the years, becoming a favorite spot for the occasional pre-show family picnic during the Summer! The main entranceway and boxoffice buildings are at right, followed by the owners' residence. At the top of the picture is the Gold Mountain Golf Course. Jack took this shot while on final to Bremerton National Airport, which is located just 1 mile to the South of us.

Jack in the Booth
This is an older shot of yours truly, back when I was... ummmm... YOUNGER!
This is a late 80's view of one of our 3 projector systems, to give you an idea what they looked like back then. It's been updated numerous times over the years, and now is completely digital. If you're familiar with such things, you'll spot our "classic" Bogen speaker amplifiers... thankfully, part of our distant past!.
You'll find lots more pictures at our photos page.