LUVERNE -- Like many of the local movie theaters, the Luverne Palace Theatre faces a choice -- go digital or go dark.
Operated by the Blue Mound Area Theatre, a non-profit established in 1980, the Palace Theatre currently shows its movies on a 35-millimeter projector. The group learned in late March that 35-millimeter film will no longer be available by the end of 2013. In the future, new release movies will only be available in digital format.
According the Blue Mound Area Theatre, approximately $70,000 is needed to purchase digital projection equipment.
While live events are also hosted at the Palace Theatre, "we can't survive on just live events," Blue Mound Area Theatre President Dianne Ossenfort said. "We just can't do it. We don't bring in enough revenue to keep the Palace open."
In addition to requesting funds from the city and county -- which the group plans to do soon -- the Blue Mound Area Theatre will host a fundraiser party at 6:30 p.m. on September 7 at the Palace Theater to raise funds for the new projector.
More than just showcasing the 98-year old theatre, the event will include the museum above the theatre, outdoor games and a speakeasy in a neighboring building.
Activities will take place inside and outside of the theater, and there will be four "stages" or distinct areas where the event will take place.
"Four or five years ago a grand piano was donated to us, so we're going to have the stage area set up like a piano bar where people will be playing some old familiar movie tunes," Ossenfort said.
There will also be a showing of classic movie clips.
Outside of the theatre, there will be d'oeuvres and games.
Above the theatre, the Palace Theatre Museum, located in what used to be the ballroom, will be open and desserts will be served.
"Some of the old things that were in the Palace are now in the museum. It will be fun for people to see the upstairs of the building" Ossenfort said.
"And the building that is just a door down that used to be a club for men will be open, and we're going to call it the Speakeasy Club," she added.
At each of the four areas, Blue Mound Area Theatre committee members will be stationed and dressed in movie costumes.
"We want it to be a social outing where people can come, and we want them to know what an important piece of history the Palace is," Ossenfort said.
In fact, since the Palace Theatre opened its doors in September 1915, it has been a vital part of Luverne and Rock County.
"It is a mainstay on our Main Street in Luverne and a real promotional part of our main street," she said. "It's an icon in the city."
In all the years the Palace Theatre has been showing movies and hosting events, many Rock County residents have developed fond memories there.
"We have people who share from time to time some information or memories. Stories from when they were younger and dating -- where they sat on their first date -- there are a lot of really good memories that happened at the Palace," Ossenfort said.
She added that the 15 members of the Blue Mound Area Theatre are looking forward to the event and that they are all willing to lend a hand to support the theatre that means so much to their community.
"We want the whole town, county, and anyone interested -- we would love to have them come and show them around the Palace," Ossenfort said. "We want to open this up and for it to really have a party flavor. I hope we have a great turn out, and I hope some of our funds come in so we can move forward."
For more information or to donate, visit http://www.palacetheatre.us. The Palace Theatre's Facebook page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/palacetheatreluv and donations may also be sent to the Luverne Area Community Foundation, with Palace Theatre in the memo line, at Luverne Area Community Foundation, P.O. Box 623 Luverne, MN 56156.
Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at 376-7322.