Photo by Don Nelson

The Barnyard Cinema will focus mainly on showing movies, but will also be available for other events.

Movie and event facility is rising on Highway 20 in Winthrop

By Don Nelson

It’s a little early yet for the searchlights and red carpet, but developers of The Barnyard Cinema on Highway 20 in Winthrop are making steady progress toward opening the multi-purpose facility this summer.

The independent cinema will focus on movies, but will also be available for events. Amenities will include a bar, game room and catering kitchen, plus a fire pit and bocce ball court outside.

Construction of The Barnyard Cinema started last summer on a 2-acre lot across from East 20 Pizza and has continued through the winter. Investment partners in the project are three Mazama-area couples: Robert and Sally Gatlin, Steve and Genevieve Cole, and Kirk and Jennifer Schumacher.

On a tour of the building last week, Genevieve Cole explained how the framed-in spaces now taking shape will look when they’re finished. The main entrance foyer will include a concessions area, benches, cafe seating and a bar that will serve beer, wine and espresso — all under a ceiling that emulates the classic pressed-tin look in Old West buildings.

The main room, where movies will be screened, will have some modular seating that can be removed for other events, plus a couple of tiers of fixed seats (78 in all) on risers.

Floor-to-ceiling windows offer views toward the Sawtooths from the main room. Curtains will come down over the windows when its time to start rolling the movies. There will also be second-floor balcony seating and a game room. The projection room is on the second floor.

The exterior siding will be light-colored, rough-hewn wood that will weather with age. An outdoor deck will provide shaded seating (with ceiling fans) and Adirondack chairs.

“We want people to linger, before and after events,” Cole said.

A massive wooden sign, created by Donna Keyser of D*Signs Studio in Twisp, will be installed at the Highway 20 entrance. There will be a smaller, changeable marquee sign to promote upcoming events.

Contractor Jim Salter of Black Cap Builders “has been stellar to work with,” Cole said.

Much curiosity

The opening date is still a bit uncertain. The owners are hoping for a July debut, but definitely intend to be operating before the summer is out.

Cole said she is “constantly” being asked about the project. “There is a lot of enthusiasm and curiosity about it,” she said.

The Barnyard Cinema will offer memberships that include discounts on tickets, plus an opportunity to “name a seat” with a permanent plaque. The membership program “offers significant savings for regular theater-goers,” Cole said.

The building has been designed to resemble a barn and will comply with Westernization code requirements set by the town of Winthrop — which means it will look like it dates to the late 1800s or early 1900s.

Initial plans for the theater were announced in July 2015, after the partners bought the lot.

Financing was arranged with Peoples Bank in Wenatchee through the Small Business Administration.

Business projections for The Barnyard Cinema were based more on local usage than tourist visits, Cole said in an interview last year.

The owners plan to screen mostly independent films produced outside the major film studios and are taking some of their inspiration from other art-house-type cinemas in the Northwest, like The Rose Theater and its Starlight Room in Port Townsend, and the Pickford Film Center in Bellingham, Cole said in that interview. Film festivals are also a possible part of The Barnyard Cinema’s offerings.