The International Route 66 Festival, an event that attracts thousands, will hit the road to Joplin next year.
Organizers of the festival, along with the director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, announced Tuesday that the festival will be held Aug. 1-3 in Joplin.
The event was staged this year in Victorville, Calif., and last year in Amarillo, Texas.
Michael Wallis, the Tulsa, Okla., author of “Route 66: The Mother Road” and the voice of the sheriff in the animated movie “Cars,” said the festival is set around an annual meeting of eight state associations and the National Park Service to work on strategy for preserving and promoting the historic highway.
It features exhibits and presentations by authors and artists whose subject is the route. There will be a Main Street America Marketplace where vendors sell their Route 66-related memorabilia and merchandise.
This year’s event in Victorville offered a military display, a food and wine festival, a Miss Route 66 Pageant, and a bike rally.
Patrick Tuttle, director of the local tourism bureau, said the event locations have not been decided yet, but they can be spread through the area along the route. He said it is the intent of organizers to include cities along the route in Missouri in the event and to feature products made in Missouri.
Tommy Pike, with the Route 66 Association of Missouri, said that organization was formed in early 1990 by a handful of route enthusiasts, and has grown to involve members from 30 states and other countries.
“Hopefully this will be a festival everyone can get behind despite the adversity suffered here about a year and a half ago,” Pike said, alluding to the 2011 tornado. He said he hopes the festival will be a pleasant diversion for residents and will give the area an experience to build on in celebrating its heritage along the route.
Wallis said interest in the old highway, significant as the byway that took sightseers and those seeking a fresh start to the West, is still growing.
He is the author of 17 books on the West, and was hired as the consultant for the movie “Cars” and for the new amusement attraction Cars Land in the Disneyland amusement park.
Wallis said “Cars” and Cars Land are bringing up a new generation of Route 66 fans.
INFORMATION about sponsorships, vending or exhibiting at the festival is available by contacting the Convention and Visitors Bureau at 417-625-4789.