Photo by E.A. Weymuller

Photo by E.A. Weymuller

By Laurelle Walsh

Winthrop’s Spring Creek Ranch is getting ready to host the second annual Celestial Cinema “outdoor film experience” this Friday and next, Aug. 9 and 16.

Dining al fresco begins each evening at 6:30 p.m. with grilled chicken, ribs, burgers and hotdogs from B&S Barbecue. Sunflower Catering will offer prepared salads. Rocking Horse Bakery will serve their signature desserts, cookies, brownies and cupcakes. And a beer and wine garden will offer beverages from Lost River Winery, Methow Valley Brewing Company and Old Schoolhouse Brewery, along with nonalcoholic natural sodas and water.

A craft activity for kids, designed by Little Star Montessori teacher Nicole O’Driscoll to complement each evening’s film, will start at 7:30 p.m. There will also be an “interactive door prize” contest each night that involves numbered ping-pong balls and a flowing irrigation ditch, according to Sarah Berns, Celestial Cinema organizer and Spring Creek Ranch owner.

Movies start at 8:30 p.m., with Pixar Animation Studios’ Up on Aug. 9 and The Goonies on Aug. 16. Suggested donation is $10 for adults; kids under 10 get in free.

“I really wanted to show an animated film this year, and Up appeals to both kids and adults,” Berns said. Up is about 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen, who ties thousands of balloons to his home and sails off to the lost world of his childhood fantasies. He’s joined by Russell, an 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer who becomes Carl’s accidental passenger in his effort to earn his final merit badge for assisting the elderly.

Berns describes The Goonies as “the quintessential old-school action/adventure film, full of cultural references from the 1980s. Many people from my generation have seen it but their kids haven’t.” In The Goonies, a group of friends embark on an epic adventure to save their families’ homes from impending foreclosure. Armed with an old, forgotten treasure map and a few clues, the friends go searching for the lost riches of the pirate legend, One-Eyed Willie.

“Celestial Cinema is a combination of two things I’ve always loved: film and the Methow Valley,” said Berns. She notes that with no movie theater in the valley, film has not had a big presence here despite the Methow’s thriving arts community. “This is a way to bring those two things together,” she said.

“And seeing movies projected on the big screen with other people is the way film was meant to be seen,” she added. She notes that it is also a great time for star gazing since Celestial Cinema coincides with the 2013 Perseid Meteor Shower.

Berns advises patrons to bring blankets or chairs for viewing movies from the acre-plus lawn in front of the ranch house. Movies will be shown on a giant inflatable screen with “state-of-the-art sound,” provided by family-owned Fun Flicks of Spokane, who also stay at the ranch house “for a little family vacation,” Berns said.

After hosting numerous weddings, the North Cascades Fiddle Contest and Liberty Bell High School’s class reunion at Spring Creek Ranch, Berns realized, “I can organize events like this.” She also participated in a Washington State University extension program on agri-tourism which looked at generating income on ranches and farms. “That really cemented the viability of this event for me,” said Berns.

Besides being a movie buff, Berns herself is a filmmaker, having studied film as an undergraduate at Wesleyan University. She is currently working on a new screenplay, her last one having made it to the finals at the Sundance Writers Lab.

Berns shared her screen writing passion with Methow Valley Elementary kids at the Young Writers Workshop at last spring. She used Up as a teaching script, with the students reading along as they watched the heart-wrenching first 15 minutes of the film.

She hopes to grow Celestial Cinema into a weeklong film festival, perhaps adding documentary films in the future. And an upcoming Kickstarter campaign may help with fundraising for next year’s event.

For more information on Celestial Cinema go to, or call 996-2495.