KINGMAN – Just call it The Gathering.
Roughly 10,000 people attend the Route 66 International Festival held each summer. Those disciples of the Mother Road – and their tourist dollars – could descend on the city en masse as Kingman is considered one of the favorites to host the event in 2014.
Such a gathering would have an undoubtedly positive affect on the city’s economy, but pulling off such a large-scale production will take teamwork by a number of public and private entities as well as residents.
Author Jim Hinckley and downtown Kingman booster Steve Wagner, both Route 66 and Kingman enthusiasts, seek volunteers to serve on committees that would work on specific aspects of the event, from drawing live bands, organizing car shows, food and beverage vendors and Route 66 beautification.
“It began almost 20 years ago in a rented tent in the faded wide spot in the road that is Landegrin, Texas,” said Hinckley of the International Festival now managed by the Route 66 Alliance.
A different community hosts the event each year.
“Kingman is a front-runner to serve as the host city,” said Hinckley.
The men are banking on approval with the end game of pulling off a successful festival that highlights Kingman’s attraction as a destination.
If Kingman does land the hosting gig, the event would be held in conjunction with the August 2014 edition of Chillin’ on Beale Street, said Hinckley.
The initial plan, he said, calls for a Saturday car show, an exhibition of artists and authors in the Southwest whose work focuses on Route 66, a barbecue at Hualapai Mountain Park and live music.
The event, said Hinckley, “would introduce visitors to some of the community’s unique attractions, such as the Stetson Winery and the award-wining Desert Diamond Distillery.”
This August the festival is in Joplin, Mo. Last year it was in Victorville, Calif., and the year before that it was in Amarillo, Texas.
“We like to move it around,” said Rick Freeland of the Alliance.
Freeland confirmed Kingman is the front-runner, but an announcement won’t be made until Aug. 3, the final day of the Joplin festival.
“This will be great for Kingman,” said Freeland. “Every town or city that has hosted the event has seen a significant bump in the local economy. And this is a true international event. Route 66 truly does have a global following.”
Freeland said the Alliance’s primary goal is to double the number of cars that travel Route 66 between Los Angeles and Chicago.
If you’re interested in helping out, call Hinckley at (928) 530-7899 or Wagner at (928) 377-2239.
By Doug McMurdo – Daily Miner