The Fun Barn offers movies, arcade games and the chance to be a kid again
When mainstream movies arrive in theaters, Ohio University students have two options to stay uptodate. Tickets at the Athena Grand, on E. State Street, sell for almost $7. Tickets at the Fun Barn, in Nelsonville, go for amere $4.
Smack in the middle of a flat field and surrounded by the rolling Appalachian mountains, the Fun Barn sits just a few hundred feet off of Route 33 West. After making the 15-minute drive to the arcade and theater, OU student Antonio Moore enjoyed a movie, soda and a hot dog for $6 one Saturday afternoon.
“Honestly, that’s what I like about that movie theater because it’s cheap and I’m a college kid. I can’t afford to do anything,” Moore said.
The Movies 10 theater in the Fun Barn has been offering the same $4 rate for 13 years, said Sharon Elliott, an employee at the Fun Barn. The property has been in the Elliott family for decades, after her grandfather bought it from the New York Coal Company.
“For a long time, we had a drive-in (theater) in our backyard, and it was $5 for a carload,” Elliott said.
Then, her father, Joe Edwards, turned the property into a movie theater. For several years, the rates were low, but then the movie industries began to want percentages of the profits and ticket prices began to rise in all movie theaters. But the Fun Barn’s prices remained reasonable.
“Dad’s always been ‘keep the prices low,’” said Elliott, so that people can afford to keep visiting.
The business has always remained in the family, and it’s largely because of the cooperation among the members.
“I don’t have a title – we don’t like titles. Just ‘family member,’” Elliott said of her official employee’s title at the Fun Barn. And though the business has seen four generations already, it is still going strong. “(My grandparents) have got more energy than I know what to do with.”
But the close family ties have not stunted its growth. In February of 2010, Edwards and his family decided to add on to the property and built an arcade adjacent to the theater.
Some of the more popular games are Dance Dance Revolution and the racecar simulation games. However, the majority of the machines are a big draw for young children because they can pay to earn points redeemable for toys and other prizes.
Sally Splain, of Nelsonville, has been running the prize redemption booth for the entirety of its existence, but still loves the job.
“Mostly it’s the kids, the real little ones, they’re so cute,” she said.
In addition to Whack-A-Mole and Skeeball, the arcade houses basketball and football games, as seen in the video below.
Josh Horn and Andrew Isaac, both from Vinton County, often make the 40-minute drive to Nelsonville so they can relax with movies and games.
“Either way, we’re still driving 30 minutes to get to any (movie) theater…but (the Fun Barn) is better and cheaper,” said Horn. “It’s definitely worth it.”
Near the entrance to the arcade are a bumper car arena, a miniature bowling alley and a simulation roller coaster ride.
Nevada Qualls, a fifth grader from the area, said that she has already been to the Fun Barn four times, and that she always goes for both the games and the movie.
“There’s a lot of games and I like the simulator and the bumper cars…those are my favorite,” Qualls said.
The arcade also offers snack booth, with a full menu that includes chicken, mashed potatoes, pizza and milkshakes, among other favorite family foods.
On one Saturday afternoon, Elliott said that eight families came to the Fun Barn to host birthday parties. One such family was Elliott’s granddaughter, who was celebrating her special day with arcade games and cake.
“It’s convenient … and the kids play a lot of games,” said Hubie Dalton, the father of the birthday girl. Even though Dalton and his family live in Columbus, they make the drive to the Fun Barn often.
Just a 10-minutedrive from the OU campus, the Fun Barn is an affordable way for OU students to see movies and act like kids again. Yet, few students know that it is there.
“One of my friends invited me to go to a movie and I was like ‘where’s that?’ But as soon as he told me it was $4, that’s all I needed to know,” Moore said. “I don’t know if a lot of student’s know about it … it’s in the middle of nowhere.”
Brian Wright, of Cincinnati, was visiting OU for the weekend and took a trip to the Fun Barn.
“I actually really liked it. Mostly because of how affordable it was. The fact that it was the newer movies yet affordable made it fun for me,” Wright said. “When you first drive up and park, it looks kind of messy and unorganized, but then you walk in and see all these lights and all this energy and realize that it’s a fun place.”
But Wright also guessed, from experiences he has had at OU, that most students would not know about the Fun Barn.
“Probably half of you guys don’t have cars yet, so you can’t travel far,” Wright said.
Although the location may not be ideal for everyone, the Fun Barn still attracts families, children, teenagers and college students mostly because, as the signs above the doors say, “you can never be too old to be a kid.”