George Repka and Jonathan Mackee or kindred spirits.
Fifty-two years ago Repka’s entrepreneur nature brought him to Grande Prairie. Today, Mackee is here for the same reason as he prepares for his second Mackee Auctions Classic Car Show & Auction at Evergreen Park May 22-24.
In 1953 the Repka family moved to Grande Prairie to open the Wapiti Drive-In.
It was a family affair that lasted until 1972 . . . and several years later, under other ownership, the Wapiti Drive-in, which was located just north of where No Frills grocery store is located on 84th Ave. and Hwy. 40, shut down.
The outdoor movie experience, however, is returning. On May 22 in Parking Lot A at Evergreen Park, there is a free outdoor drive-in movie planned as part of Mackee’s Classic Car Show & Auction, which is being held in the Main Hall of the ENTREC Centre.
When she heard about the event, Darlene Repka-Smith, daughter of George, jumped at the chance to be involved. Her company, Repka & Smith Real Estate Team is co-sponsor.
“Mom and Dad travelled throughout Alberta in 1952 looking for the best location for business in Alberta - and they picked Grande Prairie,” Repka-Smith said.
The Repkas quickly became part of the community (George was mayor at one time) and the family, since they moved here, have been involved in the growth of the area.
Mackee wants his car show to grow with the community too and has invested back into the Grande Prairie area.
“I was brought up in a northern community like Grande Prairie,” he says. “I see a lot of my home town in this place. My goal with Mackee Auctions is to not only be a part of Grande Prairie, but to also give back.”
Last year the local fundraiser initiative Kev’s Kids was handed $6,000 through Mackee’s event. He also teamed with Canadian Collision to give away a car and this year has a 1950 Ford pickup to give away just for showing up at his show.
Being involved with a drive-in again touches Repka-Smith’s heart and will, no doubt, bring back lots of family memories.
“We kids all had to work in the business - starting when we were old enough to see over the counter -which was about eight/nine years of age. We started on the popcorn machine; then waiting on customers; then in high school we went to the box office and sold the tickets. Mom made the hot dogs and coffee and no one was allowed to take it over.
“I have such great memories of the drive in - from seeing who was dating who; to eating as much popcorn and pop as we wanted; my dad checking out the trunks (some teens liked to try and sneak in without paying); and seeing who was in the steamy car that was still there 20 minutes after everyone else left.”
The experience created some great memories for her . . . and also helped her excel at math.
“We didn't have a till that added up the goods so we had to do it in our head. All of us kids to this day can still do running totals in our head - which amazes people. “
Some of her other memories include $5 per car Tuesday nights and Sunday midnight shows because back those days you couldn’t have movies on a Sunday. She also recalls westerns being a big hit with the customers.
The movie starts at 10 p.m., but the gates open at 9 p.m. and anyone taking in the movie is invited, after 9 p.m., to visit the Classic Car Auction & Show in the ENTREC Centre for free also. The first few rows at the drive-in will be reserved for vintage vehicles.
There will be mobile concessions in the parking lot, popcorn and pop for sale in the foyer of the ENTREC Centre and the ENTREC Centre washrooms will be available.
Repka-Smith is excited about the fact the community will get a chance to have the drive-in movie experience again.
“I want all kids, teens, young adults who never had a chance to attend a drive-in to now have a chance,” she said.
There will, however, be no checking trunks and everyone will be expected to depart the parking lot before the windows get too steamy.
WILD WEST MOTORCYCLE &...
Tattoo artist Dirk Vermin is going to be there and so will Athena - she's a head banger drummer and appears on the reality TV show Ex-Rock Wives. It's the first Wild West Motorcycle &Tattoo Fest April 24-26 in the Main Hall of the ENTREC Centre at Evergreen Park.
Also performing will be the Mike MacKenzie Band, Swamp Music and Ferny Turnbull.
There will be bikes, tattoos, music, merchandise, vendors, beer garden, fashion shows, door prizes and builders.
The show goes Friday 4-10 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. cost is $10 for daily admission and three-day admission of $25. Twelve and undeer it's $5 per day or $10 for all three days.