Monday, June 13, 2011


Here are the pictures from the Route 66 Festival that I mentioned in an earlier post. They were taken in Edwardsville, Illinois, a small town just outside of Saint Louis.
Actually, the festival is more of an Edwardsville history festival than it is a event highlighting the history of the Mother Road (or the Main Street of America/Will Rogers Highway, as it also is known).
I guess the festival promoters figure they have a better chance of drawing crowds to a Route 66 Festival than an event billed as Edwardsville History Festival. I think they figure right.
Probably no other road in the U.S. has quite the mystique about it as Route 66. In its heyday, it stretched from Chicago over 2,448 miles to Los Angeles (and later stretched to Santa Monica).
It has been sung about (get your kicks, on Route 66) and the subject of a popular television show in the 1960s. (A former high school teacher of mine once said he never experienced any of the adventures that Martin Milner and George Maharis did in the show when he was traveling. Yeah, but you weren’t driving a Corvette either.(I said that to myself.)
I first drove Route 66 in 1966 (kind of symmetry there -- driving 66 in ’66) on my way to California for transporting on to my first active duty station. By then, parts of the route had been taken over by Interstate 44 (it's a bore on route 44!) and later I-40.
By 1985, the road first established 60 years earlier was officially removed from the U.S. Highway system because it was no longer relevant. Not relevant? That’s the government for you. No sense of history.
Various groups have done a wonderful job of keeping the history of the road alive with various markings designating the Historic Route in several of the states along the route.
A few years ago I saw the signs designating parts of Historic Route 66 through Saint Louis and wondered exactly how Route 66 got to all the places where the markings were. Turns out, through the years the highway went through several reroutings, especially in the area where it crosses the Mississippi River into Missouri.
I’ll stop with the history lesson now. You can do a Google search and find all kinds of information about it.
As for the festival, for the most part it gives folks the excuse to gather around the library on the town square and have a good time with music, typical fair food, a couple of good beer choices, and various booths.
Kids enjoy the bounce houses and inflated slides and tunnel crawls, and adults can check out some of the town history. The band playing the night I was there -- it was called Fanfare -- had an outstanding female singer.
As for the parade of classic cars on the second night of the two-day affair, it’s a pretty informal deal. The car owners gather at a junior high school parking lot a few blocks away and make their way up the street to the festival using a street that is a part of the old Route 66.
The classic cars are mixed right in with regular traffic and must obey all traffic lights. Guess they wanted to be spared the expense of blocking off the street as well.
At the final light, the cars all turn right and go off into places unknown. I took as pictures of some that caught my eye, but didn’t get all of them.
There were a lot of Corvettes, as appropriate.
Hope you enjoy them.

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