As we begin our holiday weekend posts the first order of business is a very hearty happy birthday to the charming proprietress of the legendary Blue Swallow Motel, the crown jewel of the Route 66 corridor in Tucumcari, New Mexico. We were quite pleased to see that the celebrations were being shared with friends from far and wide.
Next, an apology to those trying to contact me this weekend. The very full schedule will require me to turn of the phone for hours at a time. However, there will be a regular check of the email.
Dominating a large portion of my time this weekend will be a very intent focus on the goal of pushing the current book to the half way point. I have several months for finishing this work but it looks as the schedule for the next few months has become rather full.
In several previous posts I noted the debut of the forthcoming Illustrated Route 66 Historic Atlas at Cuba Fest, followed by a speaking engagement at Route 66 State Park. To this I have added the offer of meeting with the organizers of the forthcoming event in Edwardsville to offer my assistance, a November 15 book signing at Auto Books – Aero Books in Burbank, California, and a possible trip to Chicago as well as a meeting with two tour groups.
This isn’t to say that there isn’t room to add a speaking engagement or book signing. However, I do suggest that if such an event is of interest for your event or organization, please let me know as soon as possible.
Earlier this morning I had a most interesting conversation with Roderick Wilde of the Historic Electric Foundation about future plans for the fledgling electric vehicle museum currently housed in the Powerhouse Visitor Center in Kingman, Arizona. Further development is temporary hindered by the need to find suitable shipping and a donor to cover the costs.
On the list of pending editions is an electric mining cart, and a fully restored, massive 1912 electric truck from the Bob Oldfather collection. The cab is more than twelve feet off the ground!
While we are the subject of electric vehicles, I would be quite remiss if a nod wasn’t given to two very important websites. First, is the link for National Drive Electric Week. Second, a great way to promote your business to the electric vehicle community is by adding your location to the Plugshare website if you have a means of allowing electric vehicles to charge up when they stop.
One of the historic treasures on display at the electric vehicle exhibit in the Powerhouse Visitor Center in Kingman, Arizona.
Moving on to other news items, I am now providing my services as a consultant to Gilligan’s Wild West Tours, a New Zealand based company that is offering a different slant to the Route 66 experience by using classic road warriors such as 1970s Monte Carlos.
I would also like to remind you that a limited partnership has been established with Open Road Productions. A combination of their extensive experience in tour development combined with my knowledge of Route 66 in the southwest, and the road less traveled to magical places such as Crown King, and that of Professor Nick Gerlich ensures that your group or company adventure is a unique, one of a kind experience.
In addition, I will also provide historic district walking tours and continue meeting with tour groups, as well as organize special events, in Kingman upon request. I do recommend that reservations be made in advance.
The last item on the list today is a simple request. As you enjoy the three day weekend, move beyond the political posturing and reflect on how unique this holiday is, and how it came to be.
The list of invitations from friends who will be celebrating the last official weekend of summer that we will not be able to accept is quite lengthy. Likewise with the list of places that we thought might make for a great weekend getaway.
However, neither list is as long as the one detailing pressing issues that seem to be growing exponentially faster than we can cross them off the list. A starter for the Jeep, a new DSL modem and its installation, completing the fourth chapter of the new book for editorial review, a couple of family issues requiring immediate attention, a tire for Barney the Wonder Truck, the replacement of the workshop that was delayed by the festival and its development, and a plumbing issue that is also vying for a place at the top of the list are but a few of the highlights.
In regard to road trips and adventures, this could be our longest dry spell in years. The last grand adventure was our outing to Crown King back in mid spring.
No complaints, I learned long ago to play the hand dealt while focusing on the simple goal of outlasting the competition. So, we suck it up and focus on an anniversary getaway in a few weeks, come hell or high water. Looming on the horizon, Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri, a speaking engagement at Route 66 State Park, and other appearances that are still being added to the schedule. Then its a book signing in Burbank. That should keep us busy until the end of the year. Between now and Cuba Fest, we also have a few end of season meetings with friends as well as tour groups. Next week its dinner with our amigos from the Netherlands. Then there is another visit with Dale Butel and one of his tours from the land down under. The backdrop for all of these endeavors and all of this drama is the proverbial crossroads we arrived at a few months ago. Left or right, forward or backward is the decision to be made and made soon but neither seems an ideal choice. I am rather positive that in years to come we will look back on this point in time with humor and even a bit of amazement. However, at this juncture it is like one of those pivotal moments in history. You would prefer to read about it in a book than live it. Now, does anyone know where I can find photos of Pierce-Pennant taxicabs built in the early 1920’s? How about photos of the taxi cab bombings in Chicago during this period? Crime scene photos of the taxi in which Detroit Purple gang members were executed in 1925? Yes sir, the current book project is turning into quite an adventure in research.
Meanwhile, as cities and villages large and small begin planning events, parties, and festivals for 2015 all along Route 66, and as the City of Edwardsville with guidance from the steadfast Chery Eichar Jett moves forward in the development of plans for the Halloween event next year, Scott Piotrowski is piquing interest with the announcement that he has been working on the creation of a full fledged Route 66 festival to be held at the historic western terminus of Route 66 in Los Angles in 2016.
It appears as though the recent festival in Kingman has ignited long simmering passions among Route 66 enthusiasts. It has also unleashed the “can do” spirit that has transformed this highway into an internationally acclaimed icon.
This is being made manifest in more than just event and festival planning in the United States and Europe. In Kingman, Arizona Werner Fleischmann is giving the historic Brunswick Hotel a new lease on life. In Truxton, Arizona, Stacy and Allen Greer are breathing new life into the Frontier Motel and restaurant. Ed Klein has purchased the long dormant Front Street Garage in Galena, Kansas. Gar and Heidi Engman are keeping the legacy of the historic Teepee Curios alive while their neighbors, the Brenner’s, transplants from Texas, are transforming an abandoned motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico into the showpiece Roadrunner Lodge.
From Chicago to Santa Monica there is a contagious enthusiasm is sweeping along Route 66, a sense of vibrancy that is inspiring dreamers and travelers alike. It looks like we are on the road to what promises to be an exciting centennial celebration.
Meanwhile, in my corner of the world, there is a need to address storm damage from July, respond to a pile of correspondence, finalize plans for an anniversary celebration, to get the current book back on track, and to complete the proposal for another. So, this weekend the phones will be off and the chances of a posting or two may be slim.
Then, in coming weeks I will need to address travel arrangements for our adventure to Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri where we will introduce the next book, a companion work for The Route 66 Encyclopedia, visit with friends, and enjoy the music of the Road Crew. at Belmont vineyards. There is also the need to coordinate book signings, interviews and speaking engagements on this tour.
As I give thought to the planning of our forthcoming Route 66 adventure in October, I am amazed by how summer seems to have lasted but a few weeks. Festival development consumed my thoughts and attentions more than I realized.
Indications are that 2015 will be one for the record books all along Route 66. As my dearest friend and I are at a true crossroads in life, we look toward the new year with a mix of eager anticipation and a hint of trepidation.
In all honesty, isn’t that how we always look toward a new year?
It started simply enough. An internationally televised conference featuring Route 66 association representatives from throughout the world was added to the slate of activities for the 2014 Route 66 International Festival.
Initially this was to be a three day event that included a variety of workshops. For a multitude of reasons that was truncated midway through festival development. That in turn necessitated exclusion of the workshops, and a painful trimming of the proposed speaker list. In turn, that resulted in some hurt feelings and a few folks who took the cut as a personal insult.
Interestingly enough, the idea of tying a conference and workshops to the festival predated the historic event in Anaheim last year. The idea in mind was to blend the family reunion aspect of the festival with a program that fostered communication, the sharing of ideas, and the development of cooperative partnerships.
Several weeks ago when it was becoming apparent that the sanctioning body for the annual Route 66 International Festival, the Route 66 Alliance, would not be sponsoring an event in 2015, I responded to a number of inquiries from representatives in several communities that had expressed interest in hosting the festival, and initiated discussions with other communities that had talked of developing an event.
I informed them of the situation, provided an array of details, and in each instance offered my services as a consultant. I also offered to assist in the promotion of an event that they would develop and host.
Even though the time proposed time for an event wasn’t ideal, through the efforts of Cheryl Eichar Jett, the City of Edwardsville stepped into the breech. They approved hosting the conference and tying their historic Halloween parade with a celebration of Route 66.
Within two weeks a suitable venue had been secured, a wide array of endorsements were obtained, and things were moving forward. However, a lack of concrete information about what activities would constitute the event in Edwardsville (they have only had a few weeks), and miscommunication created serious concern as well as much needed debate in a very passionate Route 66 community.
Unfortunately it also provided an opportunity for a few individuals who would rather fan the flames of dissension than offer solutions. As a result the progress made in developing a unified sense of community as well as community purpose was jeopardized, just as it was after the conference in Anaheim.
I am the first to admit that the late October date is not ideal. However, it provides an interim solution as plans develop for 2016 and beyond.
The conference, and workshops, should become an integral part of each festival. To separate them by location or date would be counterproductive.
However, if the event is held on an annual date in the fall, such as the anniversary of U.S. 66 certification, the Route 66 business community would be in a better position to participate and contribute, but the Route 66 enthusiast would be hindered. If it is held during the months of summer as is traditional, the Route 66 enthusiast is provided a better opportunity for attendance with their families but the business community is excluded from participation.
So, my question is why can’t we utilize the wonders of modern technology as we did in Kingman? Why not develop the annual festival for the same dates of each year? Why can’t we host a televised conference, with inclusion of speakers representing the Route 66 business community from towns along Route 66? Why can’t we televise the workshops?
The template for each festival would look something like this:
Evening reception at kick off –
Conference and workshops during the week –
Evening activities –
Weekend would center on the traditional festival events –
It would also be imperative that festival development is organized on a 24 month schedule, ideally, or at the very least, an 18 month schedule. Now, with that said, Scott Piotrowski has taken the bull by the horns and is laying groundwork for a traditional festival with conference component in Los Angeles in 2016.
In a more perfect world this would be the initiation of the countdown to the centennial. The culmination would be a week long event in 2026 that commenced in Springfield, Missouri (birthplace of Route 66) and ended with a bang in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Of course for any of this to develop in a manner that has any semblance of continuity with maximum benefit for the host cities as well as the Route 66 community, there will need to be a centralized organization that oversees development of the festivals.
I mean absolutely no disrespect to the Route 66 Alliance or the National Historic Route 66 Federation. However, the overseeing organization needs better representation from the Route 66 community.
A rough thought for development is this.
One, the organization has a director elected for a five year period. This may seem like a lengthy time but there is a need for the development of cooperative relationships with the Route 66 community.
The board of directors consists of one member from each of the state Route 66 associations. That member is elected by the state association and serves for two years. International associations appoint one advisor for each organization.
The primary purpose of this organization is to appoint a host city for the festival, provide a template of development for the host city, provide assistance in promotion, and provide assistance in the acquisition of sponsors.
Each member including advisors is allowed one vote for the selection of a host city. The host cities will be appointed on a 24 month schedule.
The meeting of this organization would be annual. It would be included as part of the festival and it would be televised.
Well the 2014 Route 66 International Festival is now history. Less than a month ago it dominated my thoughts and gave me more than a few restless nights.
Walk of Fame dedication at the 2014 Route 66 International Festival in Kingman, Arizona.
It wasn’t perfect and in fact was full of holes, issues, and minor problems. Still, the general consensus in the Route 66 community is that it was a pretty good event. We managed to balance the three primary components (Route 66 family reunion, celebration of the unique history and culture of Route 66, and showcase the attributes of the host city) that constitute a successful festival rather well.
For one brief shining moment the international Route 66 community put aside differences and came together for a fun filled weekend. That was only a week ago and already the shrill voices of a few rabble rousers are hard at work fostering divisions while presenting the illusion of having concern for the future of the road.
Predictably, the shrillest of these voices are the same ones that were portraying those who attended the unprecedented and historic conference last year in Anaheim as a self serving clique. To a large degree their efforts blunted the accomplishments of that conference and slowed momentum for the building of a community wide cooperative partnership.
The festival in Kingman was an historic milestone for the Route 66 community. For the first time since that highways renaissance began, an event blended the family reunion festivities that are an integral part of these celebrations with a program that allowed for the sharing of ideas on an international level, and the development of partnerships.
Promotion for the Kingman event included a road trip for Dora and Kurt.
For a multitude of reasons there simply isn’t time to create a similar event in 2015. We can, however, support, assist, and help to develop an interim event while making plans for 2016, and lay the groundwork for 2017 and future festivals.
The interim event is the one currently being developed in Edwardsville, Illinois. I am well aware that the time of year (Halloween weekend) isn’t ideal but in less than one month the city that is hosting and developing the event has secured a suitable location, is working on funding, has enlisted assistance from knowledgeable Route 66 consultants, and obtained significant endorsement.
At this time there are but two components for the proposed event; a conference with workshops, and an historic Halloween parade with a Route 66 theme. Additional developments are in the works.
Meanwhile, I propose that a simple template be developed for cities hosting what I perceive as an annual Route 66 convention commencing in 2016.
An opening reception –
Televised workshops and conference on weekdays –
Evening festivities –
An exhibition of artists, authors, collectors, tour companies, Route 66 associations, chambers of commerce from communities along Route 66, etc. on the weekend –
My proposal to the Route 66 community is simple. First, lets support Edwardsville, after all they stepped up to the plate and are in need of a Route 66 boost.
Two, begin work on setting a new standard for festivals in 2016 as we initiate the countdown for the centennial. Three, initiate discussions with potential host cites. Fourth, establish a committee to oversee development.
To close out the morning I want to leave you with a bit of food for thought.
The rabble rousers are quick to point out failings of the Alliance, groups, individuals, etc. Knowing that there wasn’t an organization in place to put together a festival in 2015, why didn’t they take the bull by the horns and put one together?
If the embryonic conference in Kingman is truly important to the Route 66 community, why aren’t they working to assist Edwardsville in development of an improved version in 2015?
If these folks are really concerned that the essence of a Route 66 festival are not being addressed by the City of Edwardsville, why haven’t they reached out to the cities point of contact, Cheryl Eichar Jett, and offered assistance?
Really, only one question remains, are we serious about creating a Route 66 community with a unified sense of purpose and direction?