The recent symposium in California did more than provide me with valuable information about harnessing the resurgent interest in Route 66 for community development. It also confirmed a number of things I have long suspected, and verified what the organizers of the 2014 Route 66 International Festival in Kingman envisioned when they began crafting the event on a foundation of the city and Route 66 as the crossroads of the past and future.
For Route 66 to remain as a vital, thriving repository of history that reflects American societal evolution in the 20th century, enthusiasts and promoters will need to move beyond the myopia of neon and tail fins. They will also have to develop promotion of cultural aspects of the roads history that better reflect the highways ethnic diversity, and tie all of this to changing dynamics as represented by the roadside installation of charging stations for automobiles, and an increase in bicycle tourism.
The organizers of the festival in Kingman plan on showcasing the Route 66 of the future at the event. To do so, however, there is a need for involvement from the entire Route 66 community and beyond.
To bridge the gap between the past and future on Route 66, there will be a focus on the evolution of alternative energy vehicles. This aspect will consist of seminars about the past, present, and future of alternative energy vehicles and related infrastructure, and inclusion of alternative energy vehicles in the cruise nights as well as car show.
To date organizers have confirmed attendance of an award winning automobile historian and author who will discuss the history of pre 1930 electric and steam powered automobiles, and a collector who has committed to bring the oldest operational Studebaker electric, a 1902 model designed by Thomas Edison.
In addition, Buzz Waldmire will be displaying work by acclaimed artist Bob Waldmire that pertains to electric vehicles at TNT Engineering housed in an historic Ford dealership on Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66). This is the site of a Bob Waldmire mural.
To flesh this out there is a need for additional speakers as well as participation by owners of alternative energy vehicles of the past as well as present. For more information about how to participate, contact Mike Wagner at 714-262-8733 or 928-275-1215.
A common theme at the symposium was the need for inclusion and unity in the Route 66 community. Here too, organizers of the festival are developing means of reflecting the future face of Route 66.
For fifty dollars and a gift certificate redeemable for an item from a business, museum, or community, along Route 66, there is an opportunity for representation of the entire road from Chicago to Santa Monica. Participants will be listed on the website, and the certificates will be give away during a free raffle. Again, the primary contact is Mike Wagner.
Ethnic diversity is another aspect of the highways history that is often overlooked. For the 2014 festival the major sponsor is Grand Canyon West and Hualapai Tourism.
In addition, there will be an exhibition of Native American artists and craftsman, and western artists in conjunction with the traditional gathering of Route 66 authors, artists, and collectors. Bob “Boze” Bell of True West magazine, an acclaimed author and artist will be in attendance. If you would like to participate, the contact is Angela at Beale Street Brews.
A film festival showcasing the best Route 66 themed independent films as well as motion pictures filmed on Route 66 or in the Kingman area is also on the schedule. For information about how to showcase your film call Tom at 928-234-0658.
As envisioned, the festival will serve as a catalyst for the revitalization of the cities historic district, and present Kingman as a destination. It is also hoped that it can serve as a template for other communities to develop and link their unique attributes to the popularity of Route 66, and as a result, enrich the Route 66 experience for travelers.