Even though my dearest friend and I had a great deal of fun along the way, the long drive to Kingman from Joplin was tinged with that touch of depression, anxiety, apprehension, excitement, and eager anticipation that accompanies the end of trip and the commencement of a major project. The Route 66 Alliance had passed the torch (flag) to Kingman at the closing ceremony making it official, my adopted hometown was going to serve as the host for the 2014 Route 66 International Festival. Being a part of this ceremony, as well as attendance at the Route 66 economic summit and distribution of Route 66 promotional materials was the primary reason for my attendance.
One short year, twelve months or 365 days, and a staggering agenda of items that would need resolution. From the very dawning of the Route 66 renaissance that commenced more than two decades ago, with the exception of the annual Route 66 Fun Run, the world has passed through Kingman but now we were going to make the community a destination.
With Mike and Steve Wagner, and tourism director Josh Noble, as the primary dynamos beyond this ambitious effort to transform Kingman from a fuel and food stop into a destination in one short year, there is little doubt that visitors next year will be pleasantly surprised. Still, Kingman is not Galena, Kansas, at least not yet.
With official announcement that Kingman would be serving as the host city, a website containing a basic information page and guest book set up by Ron Hart of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce went live the following day. Since my return a flurry of meetings in the past week, and a lengthy interview that will soon be published in the Kingman Daily Miner filled spare hours.
I am eager to see preparation, and subsequently, the long awaited transformation of the community unfold as this city is, in my opinion, the most overlooked destination on Route 66. Showcasing the wide array of wonders and attractions to be discovered in the area, and celebrating the international love affair with Route 66, are what will make the 2014 Route 66 International Festival a memorable event for all who attend.
Meanwhile, as work begins in earnest to ensure the festival is a success, it appears someone adjusted my schedule based on there being thirty hours instead of twenty-four in every day. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as most of the tasks are ones that I enjoy immensely. On Friday, I will be talking Route 66 and signing books for one of Dale Butel’s tours from Australia. Next week I will be performing a similar task for a group from China.As I am hoping to use Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri next year as the venue for the official promotional launch of the Route 66 Historical Atlas, the companion to The Route 66 Encyclopedia introduced at the festival last year, the publisher informed me that the book would need to be completed several weeks before the contracted deadline. The presents a challenge but not an insurmountable one as this would mean that it would need to be submitted shortly before Christmas.Of course between now and then there are a few other items on the agenda that demand my attention. Next month Route 66 Treasures debuts, I have a dental appointment to see if a root canal can be again postponed, we will be privileged to enjoy another visit from our friendS Dries Bessels, and his tour, from Holland, and Zdnek Jurasek and his group from the Czech Republic who are also due to stop by.Even though most of these things are enjoyable breaks from the tedium and crush of daily life, the most eagerly anticipated date penciled on the schedule, at least for me, in September is an opportunity to surprise my dearest friend with a special weekend. I fully intend to let her know that thirty years of support, encouragement, patience, guidance, care packages, good food, friendship, tolerance, wisdom, and love are most appreciated.