Okay, lets move beyond generalities, accusations, suggestions, and questions. This is the last day of 2013, so lets narrow the focus on how to create a Route 66 community, and lets get serious about making it a reality in 2014.
Here is my concept of a working blue print –
1) We currently have two primary organizations operating on a national level, the Route 66 Alliance and the National Historic Route 66 Foundation. The Alliance has clout resultant of its celebrity association but the Federation has a solid track record of accomplishment.
In addition to lobbying efforts, the Federation publishes the EZ 66 Guide, a dining and lodging guide, and an excellent newsletter. Rather than waste time or money the Federation utilizes existent resources to fill the needs of the Route 66 community.
As an example, the resources page of their website has links to the excellent calendar of events at Ron Warnick’s Route 66 News. Please evaluate other available resources on this page.
2) Logic dictates that if the celebrity clout of Michael Wallis and John Lassiter, the legal acumen of Rick Freeland, and the passion of Dan Rice, the primary assets of the Route 66 Alliance, were linked in a supportive manner to the infrastructure of the Federation we would have a solid cornerstone for the building of a unified Route 66 community.
3) On this is built a board of directors consisting of one member elected by each state association. The period of service as a board member would be limited to 24 months.
4) Under the board of directors would be an advisory panel. The maximum number of advisors, with a limited 12 month period of service, would be 24.
One half of these would be appointed by Route 66 associations in foreign countries, and one half would be members associated with the hospitality business on Route 66.
The hospitality associated members would be selected through a random drawing of business owners. The drawing would take place at the organizations annual convention held in conjunction with the Route International Festival.
5) The primary goals of the organization would be to provide trip planning assistance, promotional assistance for member businesses, assistance for organizations seeking lecturers or speakers, a clearinghouse for dissemination of information (historic and current) for media and authors, mediation regarding complaints against member businesses, promotional assistance and developmental assistance for communities hosting the Route 66 International Festival, and lobbying clout in regard to issues such as historic bridge replacement.
6) Funding is derived from a two tier membership – one annual fee for non business owners, and another for business owners.
7) Additional income is derived from the sale of merchandise, a percentage of fees derived from arranging for lecturers, assistance provided to tour groups, etc.
Okay, your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions? How do we proceed? Can we have the first convention at the 2014 Route International Festival? Can we develop a series of workshops (obtaining grants, neon refurbishment, tourism development, the 2015 festival) for the festival?
Misunderstanding and misinformation about the World Monuments Fund Route 66 symposium in November sparked some heated discussions among enthusiasts and business owners. However, these very conversations created an increasing awareness about the need to craft a unified Route 66 community, and spawned quite a few interesting projects.
The first step in creating a functional coalition that is beneficial rather than divisive is to change the perception of Route 66. Instead of seeing it as a highway think of it as a city and instead of seeing individual communities along that highway, try altering the perception by thinking of those towns as quirky neighborhoods in that city.
Now, rather than reinventing the wheel lets examine the various components already in place. There are currently two organizations that in theory serve as national representatives – National Historic Route 66 Federation and the Route 66 Alliance.
The conference ignited discussions, and proposals at the conference to recreate something like the original U.S. Highway 66 Association, sparked an immediate announcement that these two organizations were talking of merger. No further details are available.
Lacking the lengthy track record of success of one organization, or the celebrity association with the other, is the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce. This entity quietly flies under the radar but as you can see from the website, there is a concerted effort to fill the chamber of commerce role.
Social media and similar outlets are an increasingly important component in this development. On Facebook there are numerous examples of grass roots endeavors and the potential fruit of such projects; Route 66 Business Network, Route 66 Electric Car Club, Route 66 World, are a few examples.
In addition, scattered all over the Internet are various websites that attempt to fill the void and the need caused by lack of a unified and cohesive leadership. As an example, consider Sell 66 Stuff, a brilliant concept conceived and initiated by Carolyn Hasenfratz.
Even though each of these endeavors fill a needed role in the Route 66 community, there are still huge gaps.
How does a community utilize Route 66 as a catalyst for development?What innovative programs have been developed to harness the resurgent interest in Route 66 as a catalyst for community development?
How do you locate a Route 66 “celebrity” to add promotional appeal for your event? How do you create an event that isn’t hampered by, or that doesn’t hamper, another Route 66 event in the area?
How do you use an event to build a partnership with neighboring communities? How can tour groups or an individual planning an adventure tie an event to their trip?
In essence, providing this information and these contacts was the primary reason for the Anaheim conference. So, even if a similar conference were to become an annual event, and the information was disseminated by attendees, how do we apply and coordinate the resultant development?
At this time, the Route 66 International Festival is largely an individual community endeavor. If we were to have a unified coalition of state Route 66 associations participate in development of the Route 66 International Festival, what could be accomplished? If we were to tie a conference similar to that held in Anaheim with the Route 66 International Festival, what would be the results and potential benefits?
Lets take this line of thought one step further. What if the annual Route 66 International Festival developed within established content parameters? What if it was truly international with an identical festival, linked electronically, occurring simultaneously in a foreign city?
Okay, the components are in place. There is agreement on the need. There is an immediate need for unification to address important issues pertaining to the future of Route 66. We even have a common goal in the forthcoming Route 66 centennial.
So, how do we proceed?
The title for this afternoon post is derived from my current mood and state of mind. I kicked off the day at 6:00 AM with the writing of captions for the Route 66 Historic Atlas after breakfast, tied my butt to the chair until about 3:00 with a only a quick break for dinner, got a bit of exercise, and then, my dearest friend fixed a delicious taco salad for supper.
The captions are now written for the California and Arizona segment. This doesn’t bode well for my plan to have a bit of adventure on New Years Day as completion of this project is a priority.
As the New Years Day adventure is a tradition for my dearest friend and I, a compromise will have to be arranged. Perhaps I can write for five hours and then we can get in a desert picnic.
This atlas has proven to be even more difficult than the Route 66 Encyclopedia and that was grueling. In all honesty the weariness and frustration with what seems to be a never ending project are more the result of trying to write three books in eighteen months than the atlas itself.
Still, I am quite excited about the book and the planned debut at Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri next October. I derive tremendous satisfaction from being able to make a contribution to the Route 66 community and its preservation.
I am also eagerly anticipating adventures and opportunities in 2014, especially those that involve a chance to visit with old friends or that involve a road trip. The first of these take place on January 6 when I will speak at an Arizona Explorers luncheon.
In comparing calendars it appears as though my talks about obscure Route 66 history are growing in popularity. Even though I am seldom short of words and seem to have a gift for telling folks where to go, this is a rather recent development.
Speaking in public was something I avoided like a bag of rattlesnakes or an all vegan buffet. Now, however, I am doing it on a regular basis and find the opportunity to share stories with an interactive audience to be most enjoyable.
This sort of worries me. What other potentially enjoyable endeavors have I been avoiding? Does this mean I might learn to enjoy tofu or sprouts?
Then there is the little matter of submitting another book outline and proposal as per a publishers request. This one will be a return to my roots as it is to be a short overview of the literal war for dominance of the taxi industry in cities such as Chicago and New York during the 1920s.
As a hint of just how bad it was, consider this. Morris Markin, the founder of Checker, had his home firebombed. In New York City, a taxi driver was run off the road, drug from his cab, beaten senseless with a brick, and his customer was forcibly installed in the attackers cab.
Now, however, its time for a bit of relaxation in the form of some hard cider and a movie shared with my dearest friend.
Okay, in answer to your questions about the 2014 Route 66 International Festival, I don’t know, or should I say that the answers are forthcoming. My understanding is that the organizers (Kingman Now LLC) in an historic partnership with Hualapai Tourism, the title sponsor, are laying the groundwork for the final stage of event development.
As evidence of this I present the fact that as per request, a list of Route 66 artists, authors, and collectors, as well as representatives from state Route 66 associations and Native American artist guilds, with contact information, was compiled and presented yesterday. Still, if you have interest in having a place in the event center, or in being a vendor at the event, contact the organizers through the festival website or contact me and I will get your information to them.
The numerous calls and notes of inquiry received in the past few weeks reflect my excitement as well as my hunger for updates. As Kingman is my adopted hometown, and the Route 66 community is my adopted family, I feel an obligation to obtain and share answers.
Lets start with questions pertaining to lodging. Kingman has a wide array of options available including two historic Route 66 properties (Hilltop Motel and El Trovatore Motel), a wide array of camp grounds and RV parks, and even a bed and breakfast or two. The Go Kingman website is a great place to start the search.
One of the common concerns expressed pertains to the off chance that every room in town is taken. Well, that would present only a slight inconvenience as Laughlin, Nevada with thousands of reasonably priced rooms at the casinos is less than thirty miles away. Oatman and Needles, two communities developing activities to coincide with the festival, are even closer to Laughlin.
In regard to the Route 66 Alliance (the sanctioning entity for the festival) website, I am unsure why the festival in Kingman is not listed in the calendar of events. A request for an explanation has been sent and I am awaiting a response.
In regard to the film festival, it too is under development. I spoke with Rob Chilcoat (email@example.com) recently and have confirmed that several film makers will be showcased including Ester Brym with Autumn of Route 66. If you have a film and would like to have it included in the schedule contact Rob.
Another common question received pertains to activities for the entire family. I recently talked with Mike and Steve Wagner of Kingman Now LLC and was informed that plans are for the bowling tournament to have a youth league, and that the golf tournament may also have a youth component.
I should also note that there are some great family friendly attractions in the area. This includes excellent mountain bike or hiking trails, some of which are under the pines in Hualapai Mountain Park, a Frisbee golf course in a local park, and Grand Canyon Caverns.
As the event is a celebration of Route 66 and the great American road trip cruise nights and cruising will be an important part of the festivities. Gary Cron of Baby Boomer Radio is talking about organizing a cruise from the LA area, and David Heward of Holbrook is moving forward with plans to expand and involve the Route 66 Electric Car Club.
Saving the best news for last, there is this little tid bit to share that exemplifies the fact that Route 66 is a linear community composed of interesting neighborhoods rather than individual towns or cities. I will confirm this and provide details latter but it has come to my attention that a grass roots effort to have Joe Loesch and the Road Crew perform at the festival, and to fund that appearance, is about to begin!
Okay, if you have questions about the festival, and can’t get an answer, let me know. One way or the other, you will get a response.
See you in August –
In recent years an international cast has assembled to sing the praises of legendary Route 66. The written word has been linked with the modern digital age of video and photographs to craft a veritable symphony to accompany that chorus.
Without a doubt one of the leading maestros in this incredible concert is KC Keefer of Denver, a very talented photographer who has turned his talents toward the production of video interviews that capture the essence of Route 66 as well as preserve its history. Accompanied and assisted by his charming wife, Nancy Barlow, the resultant and still developing Genuine Route 66 Life series is as poignant, inspirational, and exciting as the road itself.
As a fan of their work, I eagerly responded to a dinner invitation from KC and Nancy as they ventured west toward California on a Route 66 odyssey. As a bonus, it was Nancy’s birthday.
Tragically, my dearest friend and I had overloaded on sweets on Christmas and as a result, Nancy was forced to endure eating the complimentary birthday desert with just a bit of help from KC.
As most always happens during such encounters, several hours vanished in what seemed like the blink of an eye. All to soon it came time to say goodnight.
It is encounters such as these that make a Route 66 adventure, and life on Route 66, so magical. These are the moments that ensure the double six remains a haven from the harried, sterile world of the 21st century.
In somewhat unrelated news, I am writing the captions for the Route 66 Historic Atlas this weekend. With each project it seems the publisher devises new ways to test my skills.
This time they are asking for succinct, almost sterile captions. Imagine this, the parameters are to write these captions in twelve words or less!
There are a few other projects on my end of the year list. At the top is to contact the folks at Kingman Now for an update on the development of the 2014 Route 66 International Festival.
I know that with the holidays there will be a void in the receipt of regular updates but material provided for the website has yet to be published. Once I have more information, updates will be posted.
Also on the list, our annual New Years Day adventure. This always sets the stage for a new year filled with road trips.
A couple of years ago we climbed Amboy Crater. This year, dependent on weather, our goal is the historic steel dam near Ash Fork.
Needless to say, we will have a plan “B”. I am not quite sure what this is yet but …
Meanwhile, its time for breakfast and work.