|Author Jim Hinckley at the Miles of Possibilitiesconference in Edwardsville, Illinois.|
At these conventions the business of Route 66 was conducted. At these conventions the seeds were sown for the transformation of a highway into an icon. Perhaps the most famous of these conventions took place in Elk City, Oklahoma in 1931. It is estimated that an astounding 20,000 people attended. In the era of the Route 66 renaissance the first incarnation of these annual conventions was a small event that took place under a rented tent in a field at Lanergin Texas on October 11, 1997. Hosted by the National Historic Route 66 Federation it was a rather simple celebration of Route 66, its colorful heritage, and the people that ensured this amazing old highway was infused with an infectious enthusiasm. When Michael Wallis, the author of Route 66: The Mother Road, spearheaded the establishment of the Route 66 Alliance and took on the responsibility of organizing the annual events, they mushroomed into full blown extravaganzas. Missing, however, was the business of Route 66. That changed with the 2014 Route 66 International Festival in Kingman, the last event sanctioned by the Route 66 Alliance. This event represented an historic turning point. Once again the business of Route 66 was an integral component of the annual events. This included a conference with representatives from European Route 66 Associations, and the establishment of the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Foundation. It was quite fitting for the festival to have a “crossroads of the past and future” theme. The evolution of the modern Route 66 convention continued with the recent Miles of Possibilities Conference in Edwardsville, Illinois. In addition to presentations by a diverse slate of Route 66 experts and innovators, and workshops, enthusiasts enjoyed the festivities that they have come to expect from such events.
|Birth of the Route 66: The Road Initiative – anhistoric event.|
The next step in the development of an annual convention will take place on November 11, 2016, at the highways original western terminus in Los Angeles. This is rather appropriate as it is also the 90th anniversary of Route 66. There is now only one component missing; an entity that can serve as the modern equivalent of the U.S. Highway 66 Association, an organization that can coordinate events such as the annual conventions and conduct the business of Route 66. Two years ago the World Monuments Fund and the National Park Service initiated establishment of that organization with an unprecedented conference in Anaheim, California. This led to the creation of a steering committee, and a meeting in Albuquerque to develop a mission and goals statement. In the international Route 66 community there were questions, piqued interest, and concerns, but overall there was guarded support for what was then known as the Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative. Surprisingly it wasn’t the glacial speed of development that garnered the most vocal opposition, that came from self serving interests. Shortly before leaving for the conference in Edwardsville a number of details pertaining to establishment of a representative board of directors consisting of members from Route 66 associations were resolved. I am rather confident that we should have an organization quite soon, perhaps before the end of the year.
|Rick and Sarah Thomas of Open RoadProductions at Edwardsville.|
The business of Route 66 has a great deal in common with the making of sausage. Most people prefer to enjoy the end result rather than participate in its making, or even watching the process.