Greg Melartin is greasing lightning and shining up his fins for a nostalgic experience Saturday, July 8, that will feature a drive-in movie, car show and more old-fashioned entertainment.

The spark for Melartin’s idea, was the former drive-in, “a staple of Spring Valley’s landscape” from 1933 to 1988 when the towering screen provided a welcome break for local residents, said the Spring Valley resident. He is bringing that experience back Saturday, July 8, with the debut of his classic car and outdoor theater experience, Fins & Films, during which there will be a screening of the 1978 hit, “Grease,” complete with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John showing off their 1950s hand jive and summer loving.

Fins & Films aims to pen a fresh chapter of memories upon the hearts of the current generation with a car show, live music, flea market, pinup show and various other events during the day. The event will culminate with the resurrection of the drive-in on historic South Broadway Avenue as the sun sets on July 8.

Melartin, whose daughter, Olina, is still a toddler, has long heard from his great-aunt about the days when Spring Valley’s residents and people from surrounding towns would either gather downtown to watch movies shown on the side of the present-day Dave’s Appliance building -- projected over the Battle-Axe Plug tobacco sign -- or pull into the Spring Valley Drive-In, once located where the now-closed Alco store building and the Casey’s gas station stand, roll down their windows, hang a speaker off the car, take in the featured film and perhaps even a double feature on the giant white screen that faced east so that the setting sun would not interrupt the show.

The car collector’s affection for vintage vehicles spurred his thought about what might happen if he held a free community event including a car show and a drive-in movie to bring neighbors together to reminisce or experience something new.

“I’d been thinking about this since 2015, wanted to do this for a while, but this past November, I decided a little bit more, and in January, after we’d held a movie night here at my shop – with about eight kids and 15 adults, the kids all bouncing around in my 1950 Plymouth roadster as they watched ‘Cars,’ it was a fun movie night, not a ‘shh’ movie night – I decided that I was going to do this,” he said. “Because the drive-in was open from 1933 to 1988, I researched Joe Mlinar. He was a good promoter…he owned the drive-in and the State Theatre downtown, and people have told me that he would do things like put placards on a donkey and stand it in the street, or he’d get a megaphone and start advertising the movie. My grandma’s sister told me that outdoor movies are very much a part of Spring Valley’s history.”

Melartin explained that while he was living in New Jersey, he attended or held classic car shows, including ones held in a parking garage.

“Almost every day, you see classic cars driving through town, and there’s no reason they can’t stop here. I’ve done car shows for modern cars that were on three-level parking garages, and they were licensed or approved by the city. They ran for three to four months and were always packed,” he said.

He will have his 1950 Plymouth roadster there as well as his 1978 little red Express and his 1979 Yamaha XS 650 Bobber bike while his 1973 Dodge D-3 crew cab will be the movie projection point. Marchant Motors is also bringing a 1959 Dodge. Cars, trucks and motorcycles from 1988 or older are welcome.

“Because the theater closed in 1988, I made 1988 the cutoff for vehicles in the show,” he explained. “People who have cars, bikes, trikes, anything pre-1988 can come down for the car show, and for the movie, if you don’t have a vehicle, you can throw down a blanket, because there’ll be sitting space of about 20 to 30 feet.”

The movie screen will even be chronologically accurate. It’s going to either be a box truck or a grain truck, something pre-1988, or he’ll be building it. It will be at least around 20 feet, he added.

The gates open at 3 p.m. on the day of the show. Cars will be parked by the screen on Jefferson Street if people have cars. The pinup show is by Chateau de Chic since owner Jenn Slifka has plenty of people who wanted to be in that. There will also be a tattoo shop with paint-on tattoos instead of face painting for the kids. A&W is bringing some trays and glasses for a carhop race course with prizes awarded. Vendors will set up for a flea market, which will include t-shirts for the day.

At 5 p.m. there will be live blues and rock music. At about 8 p.m., people can get kettle corn from a stand or pizza and get settled in. At about 9 p.m., or sunset, the movie, “Grease,” will start. People who don’t have a vehicle to watch from can throw down a blanket on the street.

Fins & Films is made possible through the generosity of area businesses and the support of the Spring Valley Chamber of Commerce, noted Melartin.

“The chamber picked me up and is backing me. They gave me the approval, and then I started out and was able to raise enough money to have free admission,” said Melartin. “I was going to charge $10 per person because there are costs with getting a movie to show in public. I had to license the movie – I had to go big or do nothing at all, so we’re closing down Broadway – and every business in town has been very supportive of this event. Everyone agreed that we needed more events, not just during Ag Days.”

He also wanted the event to be a downtown event instead of in Rochester at the Olmsted County Historical Society, which has had movie nights before, or at a location on the outskirts of Spring Valley.

He allowed that he hopes to keep this event going and eventually he might help make something happen at the A&W because the drive-in and the A&W were directly across the highway from one another and inextricably connected as businesses for so many years, but for now, it’s a chance to show off downtown Spring Valley with something as nostalgic as a drive-in movie, even though shown on a temporary screen.

He credited Jeff Thauwald, Julie Mlinar and Debi Neville for pointing him toward the Chamber of Commerce as well as the sponsors that help make it a free event.

Melartin has high hopes for his small-town Saturday night venture, from the bobby socks and carhops to the neighborly conversations about who owned what car during what era and how many people they could pack into the back seat – or trunk – to watch a movie. He anticipates the moment when everyone’s gathered around, be it in their cars or on blankets, watching.

“The aesthetics will be awesome…the overall goal of ‘Fins & Films’ is to have things spread out over the year,” he said. “I’d like to have a blowout event where people from all over plan their vacations to come to the event. There are other events that are the same level that I’d like this to become. In New Jersey, there were events that brought in thousands of people. But the goal is not to commercialize it too much. I want to keep it going. There should be something for everyone, from 1 to 72.”

For more information on the event, log onto the Fins & Films Facebook page at, contact Greg Melartin at 609-444-8638 or e-mail