To say planning for the conference, workshop, and Route 66 related activities planned for Edwardsville, Illinois this coming October has been a bit rocky and confusing would be an understatement. Fortunately Cheryl Eichar Jett was able to navigate the rocky shoals and hold fast to the charted course.
As a result, the Route 66 community will have an opportunity to enjoy a fun filled weekend and attend to the business of keeping Route 66 alive into the centennial and beyond. Judging by the first official press release, it looks as though we just might have a modern incarnation of the annual conventions that were a cornerstone of the original U.S. 66 Highway 66 Association.
This, to say the very least, is quite exciting. Will we be seeing you there?
“Miles of Possibility: The Edwardsville Route 66 Conference”
“Miles of Possibility: The Edwardsville Route 66 Conference” will be held in Edwardsville, Illinois, on Thursday-Saturday, October 29-31. Sponsored by the Illinois Route 66 Blue Carpet Corridor Coalition and hosted by the City of Edwardsville, the primary venue for the conference is the beautifully-restored historic Wildey Theatre on N. Main Street, just two blocks off Edwardsville’s Route 66. www.wildeytheatre.com
Conference sessions will include presentations, panel discussions, and workshops by nationally- and internationally-known experts on Route 66, history, preservation, and marketing. The complete conference schedule, as well as online registration, will be offered, beginning on or about April 1, on the conference webpage, www.bluecarpetcorridor.org/rt66conference.
Conference attendees arriving early on Thursday, October 29, will find plenty of activities. Conference registration begins at noon at the Wildey Theatre where attendees can also enjoy an afternoon tour of the 1909 Wildey Theatre. Also running during the afternoon will be one-hour tours of Edwardsville’s national historic districts. Thursday evening’s pub crawl will include historic Route 66 taverns as well as N. Main Street breweries and wine bars.
On Friday evening, the Wildey Theatre will host a catered dinner for conference attendees followed by a concert in the Wildey auditorium. The concert, featuring the legendary Bob Kuban Band, will fill the theatre with music from the Route 66 era, and at the Wildey there’s always room for dancing in the aisles!
On Saturday, the conference sessions will end in time for attendees to prepare for Edwardsville’s annual Halloween parade, an institution in the city since 1924. The two-hour parade draws crowds in the tens of thousands to downtown Edwardsville to see the floats, marching bands, cars, and creative costumes. The parade this year is borrowing the Blue Carpet Corridor’s official theme: “Mobsters, Miners and the Mother Road.” Feel free to attend in costume!
After the Saturday evening parade, a party for conference attendees will be hosted by Dr. Nick Gerlich of Amarillo, Texas, and Roamin’ Rich Dinkela, of St. Louis, Missouri, at a TBA venue. Route 66 author and collector Joe Sonderman will DJ. Costumes optional!
On Sunday, there will be a Blue Carpet Corridor tour with attractions along the route open special hours for conference attendees. The Blue Carpet Corridor Coalition was formed in November 2013 to promote the section of Illinois Route 66 from Chatham to Collinsville. Blue Carpet Corridor Coalition President Cheryl Eichar Jett is serving as Conference Director.