WELCOME TO KINGMAN – FIRST REPORT FROM THE ROUTE 66 INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
Well, the 2014 edition of the Route 66 International Festival kicked off in grand style last evening at Redneck’s in Kingman. The essence of this event is a near perfect blending of one part celebration of the double sixes magic, one part good food shared with friends and amply sprinkled with laughter, three parts family reunion, and a bit of history.
Last evenings dinner, and an abbreviated tour of the historic district under a starlit desert sky set the stage for what promises to be a most delightful weekend. Though it started simply enough with a request to meet and discuss the pending Crossroads of the Past and Future conference from Ron Hart of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce, I sensed that it would morph into something a bit larger. After all, the Route 66 family was gathering in Kingman.
Shortly after the phone call from Ron Hart, I received another from Bob and Ramona, the proprietors of the legendary Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, Missouri. What a delightful surprise!
Author Jim Hinckley leading a tour in the Kingman historic district (courtesy Kumar Patel)
Soon, the party was on! Mike and Sharon Ward, George and Bonnie Game of the Canadian Route 66 Association, Kumar Patel of the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, Brenda St. Clair, Dean Walker and Dean Kennedy, the one and only Tattoo Man and his charming wife, and even a fascinating young lady from Russia motorcycling around the world who simply got caught up in the festivities. As the crowd grew we soon had a line of tables joined together and the restaurant filled with animated conversations as old friends caught up on the latest news, laughed, and shared stories from the road.
From its very inception this festival has been plagued with a staggering array of issues that ranged from fractured leadership to no leadership, disjointed organization to a lack of promotion. Still, the essence of what makes this old road so special overpowered all obstacles.
Dora Manley took the helm and energized the community as evidenced by hundreds of people answering her call for volunteers to man clean up projects or assist during the festival. The international Route 66 community spread the world, put aside differences, and took to the road or fanned the flames of excitement with social media.
I sense that this event will mark the dawning of a new era on Route 66, the first chapter of a new volume. The embryonic Route 66 Crossroads of the Past and Future conference will be televised live (here is the story and link for viewing from Route 66 News).
This will set the stage for a larger conference with workshops in Edwardsville next fall. Details on this event will be made public later in the festival.
Officially the festival doesn’t begin until the dedication of the walk of fame, and a presentation by Kaisa Barthuli of the National Park Service at 5:00 this evening. However, for a number of our visitors the fun began days ago as the ran into friends on the road at the Midpoint Café, in Seligman, in Williams, in California and at points in between.
Last evening in Kingman the gathering of the faithful began in earnest. Today the fun begins.