From the perspective that I have extreme trouble with the dawning of projects that unleash the imagination, yesterday may have been the worst day of the year. Still, I know from experience that before you can begin the wild ride, there is that interminable time in the chute where anticipation and anxiety build to nearly unbearable levels.
First was a lengthy, and occasionally frustrating, conversation with Gary Cron of Baby Boomer Radio. The topic of discussion was the forthcoming Route 66 International Festival, his developing plan for a vintage car caravan from the Los Angeles area to Kingman for the festival with special event stops at the museum in Barstow and in Needles, and a band composed of classic rock musicians that he is hoping the organizers of the festival will hire for a Saturday night performance during the festival.
The frustration was in knowing that there won’t be a great deal of progress until after the Christmas holiday, that the coalition formed between Kingman Now LLC (the organizers of the festival), the chamber of commerce, and tourism office can’t begin work until after the first of the year, and that there is so much to do before August of 2014. Before continuing this tale I should explain my role in the development of the festival.
The short version is that my job is to round up the cats and herd them to Kingman for the event. A more detailed descriptor is that I am the primary coordinator (aka piñata) between those outside of Kingman and those who are running the show. A secondary role is ensuring that the essence of Route 66 isn’t buried in the plan to showcase Kingman as a destination.
Next on the agenda was a preliminary meeting with one of Kingman’s favorite sons, Bob “Boze” Bell. He and a few childhood cohorts from Kingman are working on a book about growing up on Route 66. In typical Bob “Boze” Bell fashion, here is the first official press release.
” Local boy, Bob Boze Bell, who proudly iced jugs for free at Al Bell’s Flying A on Route 66 will be coming home. Bell is the executive editor of True West magazine and has written and illustrated a book on his experiences—”The 66 Kid”—which he will roll out at the festival.”
To say I am quite honored to have received a request to provide assistance would be an understatement. In our first meeting we discussed the changing face of Kingman, what the festival means to the community, what it was like to grow up there when Route 66 was truly the main street of town, and then we got down to brass tacks.
We talked of key people whose interviews would enhance the book, about the international appeal of the highway, and cover ideas. We talked about the magic of the road made manifest in the fact that people from throughout the world flock to an elderly barber in Seligman, Arizona for a haircut and shave or to ruins on an abandoned segment of the highway in the wilderness of the Painted Desert.
Restraining my enthusiasm and excitement about Route 66 and its potential for serving as a catalyst for community revitalization is never easy and when I have an audience such as Bob Bell and his crew it becomes even more difficult.
I also spoke at length with Sam Murray from New Zealand, the proud new owner of the Frontier Motel and Café in Truxton, Arizona. Our topic of discussion was plans for Truxton, and the development of his Route 66 tours, an expansion of his Gilligan’s Wild West Tours enterprise.
I have been lending assistance in the development of his tours to ensure clients receive an honest, unforgettable Route 66 experience. At the heart of yesterdays conversation was planning the tours for 2014, and 2015, to coincide with at least one festival along the way.
In 2014 the summer tour will coincide with two days of the Route 66 International Festival. The following year his initial plans are to include the Route 66 Fun Run in the spring tour, a Fourth of July celebration in the summer tour.
The last discussion of the day was with Linda Fitzpatrick, the Needles dynamo that is tirelessly working to breathe life into that faded Route 66 community on the Colorado River. She has some fantastic ideas for using the golf course and country club on the river to host special events during the Route 66 International Festival next year.
This will provide added incentive for festival attendees to do some Route 66 cruising even if it is August. It will also enhance the drive for those coming to Kingman from California.
We also discussed the possibilities of tying this to fund raising efforts for restoration of the communities historic theater. Needless to say, this discussion is giving rise to some most interesting ideas.
To close this out I would like to provide a few updates about the festival, provide some contact information, and ask that you give thought to ways of developing means for building a cooperative endeavor in your community. After all, the festival is an ideal opportunity to promote every community on Route 66, and to find creative ways of enhancing the travelers experience as they motor west or east toward Kingman.
The fees for street vendors and space allotments for collectors and authors in the event center haven’t been confirmed as of yet. Still, the primary contact for information is Angela at Beale Street Brews and Gallery. If you have any problems in regard to making contact, please let me know and I will follow up with her.
Next, the primary contact for general information, getting involved with the development of the Route 66 walk of fame, the car show, or the wide array of events being developed, the primary contact is Mike Wagner. His number is (714)262-8733.
Again, I will run interference, make sure your questions are answered, and in general, try to assist in any manner possible. Meanwhile, don’t forget the organizers are looking for independent film producers for the film festival, owners of alternative energy vehicles from the past, present, or future, and people who want to round out the proposed workshops by making short presentations about transforming Route 66 into an electric highway, or topics related to Route 66 business development.