First, lets dispel a few myths and rumors. From inception there has been a great deal of local support for the Route 66 International Festival in Kingman. There were also a number of detractors and a few have (or had) a high profile in town.
In spite of this, event development moved forward with several business and community leaders (including the mayor and city manager) refusing to take no for an answer, striving to create cooperative partnerships, and working to ensure the festival was a memorable one for visitors, an historic one for the Route 66 community, and that it portrayed Kingman as more than a stop on the road to somewhere.
The city is repairing sidewalks and roadways, and sprucing up parks in the historic district and along the Route 66 corridor. Business owners and civic groups are spearheading clean up projects, and old buildings are being repurposed. Dora Manley, the new festival director, is working on a number of incredible initiatives that will enhance the event and ensure it is most memorable for Route 66 enthusiasts (does a peak inside the Beale Hotel sound interesting?), and the traditional summit meeting turned conference may spawn an actual Route 66 convention in 2015. From an Annie Mouse on Route 66 party developed by author Anne Slanina for the children to historic district walking tours and receptions there will be something for everyone young and old.
So mark your calendars, make reservations, and put your party hat on. If you can’t get enough of Route 66, this will be THE place to be in 2014. If all of the hype and talk about Route 66 has left you curious, you need to mark your calendar and make reservations for an enlightening weekend in Kingman. If you are associated with Route tourism, or are a Route 66 artist, author, photographer, or collector and want a display space in the exhibition hall, are a vendor and want to present your wares to an international audience, want to show off your vintage car or hot rod, want to help create the first electric vehicle traffic jam on Route 66, want to learn about a wide array of Route 66 topics from experts, or simply want more information about this incredible event, contact Dora at (928)279-4560.
The new ice cream parlor on Andy Devine Avenuenext to the historic Brunswick Hotel.
Now, a couple of quick festival updates. John McEnulty of the Grand Canyon Caverns and Grand Canyon Resort will be hosting special tours at discounted rates. Available seating for the Yahoo Route 66 E-Group breakfast is almost filled.
Even though the majority of activities center in the historic district, to facilitate ease of access to events in various parts of Kingman such as the film festival, as well as to avoid parking issues, the city will be developing special dedicated bus routes for the festival.
Michael Wallis, the acclaimed author and speaker, will be opening the two day Route 66 Crossroads of the Past and Future conference. Additional speakers include Sean Evans, archivist at Northern Arizona University, Ron Hart, Route 66 Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, and Dries Bessels of the Dutch Route 66 Association who will present an enlightening look at Route 66 from a Dutch perspective.
A special exhibit courtesy of the Cline collection from Northern Arizona University and a Route 66 exhibit by Bob Boze Bell is underdevelopment. Development of the historic electric vehicle exhibition is in full swing.The National Historic Route 66 Federation published an overview of the festival in their most recent newsletter. The festival has been the subject of discussion in Toronto newspapers, on WGN radio, and Coast Radio in Auckland. This will be the Route 66 event of the year. However, it could also very well be the dawn of a new era, especially if the embryonic conference spawns an actual convention in 2015. As we look beyond the festival, I would like to remind you about the walk of fame. This is an ideal opportunity to memorialize the people who have contributed to the transformation of Route 66 into an icon. With that said, I propose that enthusiasts consider sponsoring a brick to honor the Knudson’s, John and Lenore Weiss, Michael Wallis, Angel Delgadillo, Bob Waldmire, Shellee Graham, and …(?). This might be a bit of stretch akin to making an argument that Route 66 and Atlanta or Cleveland are linked, but the walk of fame in Kingman is rather fitting. After all, Kingman played a pivotal role in establishing the course of the National Old Trails Highway, predecessor to Route 66. Originally the National Old Trails Highway went south from Santa Fe, through Albuquerque and Springerville, Arizona to Yuma. A group of Kingman businessmen formed a partnership with like minded people in Needles, attended the National Old Trails Highway convention of 1913, and presented a powerful argument that led to rerouting across Arizona and through California.