In 2026 the Route 66 centennial will spark the largest block party in American history. In preperation of this mega event the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield is about to unveil the Route 66 Experience that was developed in partnership with Ace Sign Company.
This will be the cornerstone for the city’s expansive Route 66 centennial celebrations. In 2026, Springfield will also be hosting a special Miles of Possibility Conference, the only annual conference that is focused on the business of Route 66.
100 Years of Adventure
This iconic old road is not our most scenic highway, nor its most historic. But since at least early 1927 when the U.S. Highway 66 Association was formed to lobby state and federal governments for paving it from end to end, and to market it as America’s Main Street, it has had the best publicity.
Evidence of the roads popularity, and the growing interest in the Route 66 centennial, can be found in communities between Chicago and Santa Monica. You can see it in events such as the recent AAA Route 66 Road Fest in Tulsa, Oklahoma. You can see it with companies that are initiating marketing special tours in 2026. And you can see it in social media groups where people are asking questions, and making plans to travel the road with like minded friends.
Jim Hinckley’s America
As Jim HInckley’s America is rooted in my association with Route 66 that dates to 1959, it is not surprising that the number of inquiries for information, and the requests for interviews, is growing exponentially. But as to my plans for the centennial, I don’t have anything set in stone.
My primary focus at thist time is what it has always been – sharing America’s story and inspiring road trips by telling people where to go. A facet of this is building a series of linked platforms to assist event organizers, grass roots initiatives and tourism offices.
One of these is the weekly podcast, Coffee With Jim. Reach and engagement shows steady growth. And this makes sponsors happy.
Illustrating the vision for the podcast is the guest list for upcoming programs. On Sunday, July 30, Wade Bray will be joining me to talk about the Route 66 centennial. He is the designer behhind the new interactive Angel Degadillo exhibit at the Powerhouse Visitor Center in Kingman, Arizona. He has also developed the annual AAA Route Road Fest in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The following Sunday, I will be joined by Joe Sonderman. Sonderman is a prolific author, as well as an historian that has a deep knowledge about St. Louis that he shares passionately. He also serves on the board of directors for the Route 66 Association of Missouri.
And then on August 13, we turn our focus to the past, present and future of the electric vehicle. Our guests will be Roderick Wilde and Kent Bakke of the Historic Electrice Vehicle Foundation. This organization is in the process of establishing an electric vehicle museum, and educational facility, along Route 66 in Kingman.
Steve Roth of Quatro Publising joins me on the 20th to discuss the changing face of publishing. And, of course, we will also be talking about Route 66 books and how their popularity is linked to the Route 66 centennial.
What Are Your Plans?
Do you have plans for the Route 66 centennial? If so, we would like to hear about them, and how we might be able to assist.