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?