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Film series marks 20th season

Stars under the Stars, an annual downtown summer film series at the historic Crute Stage at the corner of Main and Fourth streets, has reached an important milestone as it begins its 20th season.

Dr. Maureen Walls-McKay

The Downtown Film Series began in 1998 and has since evolved into a summertime staple for residents, families and visitors, according to the “Stars under the Stars” Facebook page.

The first screening of its 20th year, hitting the Crute Stage on 100 N. Main St. on Friday, will be the 1991 animated Disney classic, “Beauty and the Beast,” rated G.

Admission for all three films being showcased this summer is free, and popcorn, candy and drinks will be available for purchase, according to the event’s Facebook page.

According to event organizer Maureen Walls-McKay, the 20-year milestone shows the event’s impact on the community.

“It’s been a strong run,” Walls-McKay said. “It’s been very consistent. We just have a model that works, and we love offering the films to the public.”

Walls-McKay said she joined the Outdoor Film Series Volunteer Committee, which originated from the Leadership Farmville Program, in 1999 and has seen the event’s development, supported by the Town of Farmville, over the years.

The first films shown during the event, Walls-McKay said, were “To Catch a Thief,” “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

Walls-McKay said the five-member committee met after the Oscars were handed out and selected the films based on community suggestions and viewing rights availability. 

She said funds raised from concession sales and support from area businesses have helped the committee upgrade Crute Stage’s sound system and the restroom facility nearby.

Walls-McKay said while the celebration for the 20th year will be low key; the committee will plan a grand celebration for its 25th anniversary. She said the event has had between fewer than 100 to 280 attendees, the average being more than 150.

Walls-McKay encouraged people to attend the showings and experience a relaxed and fun evening watching films in the outdoors in the Heart of Virginia.

“It’s been a strong community outreach for 20 years now,” Walls-McKay said, “and we just really enjoy providing this free, open-to-all event in downtown Farmville.”

Other films scheduled this summer include “Ghostbusters” (1984, PG) on July 14 and “The Sting” (1973, PG) on Aug. 11.

Parking for “Stars under the Stars” will be available on Main Street and at the municipal parking lot behind the courthouse.

Organizers encourage participants to bring their own blankets and lawn chairs. No pets are allowed at the event.

Those who arrive early may take part in pre-show trivia and giveaways.

In the case of rain or inclement weather, the films will be scheduled for the following day at dusk.

Major sponsors for the series, according to Stars under the Stars Facebook page, are Central Virginia Regional Library, Putney Mechanical, Real Living Cornerstone: Navona Hart and Red Door 104 with donations provided by Pepsi and recognition given to The Farmville Herald and the Town of Farmville.