The Route 66 Festival Is Back On
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After a year without a show and following a period of uncertainty, classic cars will return to Springfield, Illinois for the biggest car show in the Midwest. The Covid-19 pandemic greatly affected car shows in 2020, and some shows have not yet returned.
However, the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival will take over downtown Springfield to honor the iconic highway.
According to the Illinois Times, the Route 66 car show will return for its twentieth festival. Under new management from Springfield locals, the festival promises to bring thousands of classic cars and even more attendees to celebrate Route 66.
Cue “Life Is A Highway” by Tom Cochrane.
Why was the festival at risk?
The biggest and most obvious factor that put the festival at risk was the Coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 led to the cancellation of the 2020 event, but this is certainly not the only contributor.
Changes in the automotive industry have resulted in changes to car shows, but the pandemic sped these changes up.
The International Route 66 Mother Road Festival was previously run by the national Bonnier Events group. This Florida-based group operates shows across the country, but they decided to drop the Route 66 Festival as well as others following pandemic cancellations.
This put the future of the classic car event up in the air, but two passionate Springfield locals helped ensure that the festival would continue.
Shane “Shaner” McDermith and Greg “Coop” Cooper took over the leadership of the Route 66 Festival. In just twelve weeks, these two car enthusiasts put the festival back together.
Twenty years of celebrating Route 66
The first International Route 66 Mother Road Festival was held in 2001, and it’s one of the largest tourist attractions in Springfield. Each year, the festival brings in 80,000 visitors.
When the event was first started, though, organizers and community members were not certain that it would be a success. Route 66 is important to the Springfield area, but an event as large as this was risky.
Initially, a state grant helped fund the event, and when that eventually expired, the national organizer took over.
Today, under the management of Shaner and Coop, the festival is an event that brings the entire community together. Volunteers, police, and community leaders all work together to ensure that the car festival runs smoothly.
The Route 66 Festival main event
By far the most famous and unique part of the Route 66 Festival is the annual car parade through the streets of downtown Springfield. During this event, classic car owners take a road trip to Springfield, and more than 2,000 classic cars take to the streets.
This is not common to car shows, and it is something that sets this festival apart from others. As with other aspects of the festival, there were concerns that the community would not accept the car parade. Some were worried that this would block traffic and would be a nuisance.
In reality, though, locals love the car parade, and many businesses set up tailgates and other parties along the parade route. The Route 66 festival keeps the tradition of the famous route alive and celebrates the joys of driving.
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