JOPLIN — Have you ever wanted to travel the Old Route 66 or talk to those who have traveled it or even pick up a souvenir about the famous highway?
You will have that chance during the 2013 Route 66 International Festival, slated to be held on Thursday, Aug. 1, and concluding on Saturday, Aug. 3, at three different locations.
"It starts Thursday with a car show over at the drive-in at Carthage, which is sold out," said Patrick Tuttle, director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Joplin. "We sold the tickets online and it sold out in 10 hours. Then on Aug. 2, it all focuses downtown at 1 p.m. with opening ceremonies and the dedication of the two new murals. At 1:30 p.m., the Main Street Marketplace opens, which is where all of the vendors are. And a lot of those vendors are purely Route 66 dedicated vendors: they are authors, artists, their heart is purely in the route. We have other vendors as well. That is going to be at 5th and Main St. [in] Joplin."
The festival is open to the public.
"Friday night, it all moves over to Galena, Kan., and Galena has become one of those model sites for Route 66," he said. "Then it all moves over to Joplin on Saturday, we repeat the vending, we move into two concert stages with five different acts and a large car show."
This is the first time the festival has been held in Joplin and even in Missouri, Tuttle noted.
Most recently in 2012, the city of Victorville, Calif., hosted the event and Amarillo, Texas, was the site in 2011.
The city of Joplin has a unique relationship with its Route 66 neighboring states. The three county region connecting Southwest Missouri, Southeast Kansas and Northeast Oklahoma had a bond even before Route 66.
Prior to the American Civil War the area was known as the Tri-State Mining Region and in its day, held the distinction of having the world's largest deposits of lead and zinc.
As stated, Route 66 is an international festival, which according to Tuttle, has seen people travel from near and far including Europeans. Those who travel on the Mother Road — as it is commonly known — are called Roadies.
According to a press release, "As Roadies are encouraged to tour the tri-state corridor between Carthage and Miami, Okla., local stores, museums, diners and attractions will have their welcome mats out and doors open to all. An International Festival Passport Book will be available to direct guests to the more popular Route 66 sites of the tri-state region including Red Oak in Carthage, the Carousel Park and Mineral Museum in Joplin, Eisler Brothers and the Baxter Springs Visitor Center in Kansas, and the Historic Coleman Theater in Oklahoma.
Roadies who collect a significant number of stamps in their Passport Book can present their results at a booth in the Main Street Marketplace to be eligible to enter into a drawing for an amazing prize package of Route 66 collectibles."
Page 2 of 2 - The festival concludes on Saturday night with a concert headlined by the internationally acclaimed rock group The Grass Roots. Since 1965, The Grass Roots have charted 29 singles; 13 of which went gold followed by two gold albums and one platinum album. In the entire history of rock and roll, only nine bands (including The Beatles) have charted more hits on Billboard's Hot 100 than The Grass Roots. Additional performers during the International Festival include: The Detectives, The Road Crew-America's Route 66 Band, Walrus and City Limits.
For more details about the festival, go to www.route66internationalfestival.com or contact the Joplin CVB at 625-4789.
Asked why the Route 66 is such an important part of history, Tuttle said, "Route 66 is America's longest museum, it is not so much about the highway and the speed about getting around, it is about the Americana.
There is so much true Americana in the old gas stations, the way of life, the marketing, there is all sorts of things on the route that are great Americana pieces and that is what drives people toward it."