Tuesday, August 26, 2014

ON THE ROAD TO THE CENTENNIAL

Meanwhile, as cities and villages large and small begin planning events, parties, and festivals for 2015 all along Route 66, and as the City of Edwardsville with guidance from the steadfast Chery Eichar Jett moves forward in the development of plans for the Halloween event next year, Scott Piotrowski is piquing interest with the announcement that he has been working on the creation of a full fledged Route 66 festival to be held at the historic western terminus of Route 66 in Los Angles in 2016. 
It appears as though the recent festival in Kingman has ignited long simmering passions among Route 66 enthusiasts. It has also unleashed the "can do" spirit that has transformed this highway into an internationally acclaimed icon. 
This is being made manifest in more than just event and festival planning in the United States and Europe. In Kingman, Arizona Werner Fleischmann is giving the historic Brunswick Hotel a new lease on life. In Truxton, Arizona, Stacy and Allen Greer are breathing new life into the Frontier Motel and restaurant. Ed Klein has purchased the long dormant Front Street Garage in Galena, Kansas. Gar and Heidi Engman are keeping the legacy of the historic Teepee Curios alive while their neighbors, the Brenner's, transplants from Texas, are transforming an abandoned motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico into the showpiece Roadrunner Lodge.
From Chicago to Santa Monica there is a contagious enthusiasm is sweeping along Route 66, a sense of vibrancy that is inspiring dreamers and travelers alike. It looks like we are on the road to what promises to be an exciting centennial celebration. 
Meanwhile, in my corner of the world, there is a need to address storm damage from July, respond to a pile of correspondence, finalize plans for an anniversary celebration, to get the current book back on track, and to complete the proposal for another. So, this weekend the phones will be off and the chances of a posting or two may be slim.
Then, in coming weeks I will need to address travel arrangements for our adventure to Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri where we will introduce the next book, a companion work for The Route 66 Encyclopedia, visit with friends, and enjoy the music of the Road Crew. at Belmont vineyards. There is also the need to coordinate book signings, interviews and speaking engagements on this tour.
As I give thought to the planning of our forthcoming Route 66  adventure in October, I am amazed by how summer seems to have lasted but a few weeks. Festival development consumed my thoughts and attentions more than I realized.
Indications are that 2015 will be one for the record books all along Route 66. As my dearest friend and I are at a true crossroads in life, we look toward the new year with a mix of eager anticipation and a hint of trepidation.
In all honesty, isn't that how we always look toward a new year? 
   
        

Sunday, August 24, 2014

COLLISION OF CONFERENCE AND FESTIVAL, AND COUNTDOWN TO THE CENTENNIAL

It started simply enough. An internationally televised conference featuring Route 66 association representatives from throughout the world was added to the slate of activities for the 2014 Route 66 International Festival. 
Initially this was to be a three day event that included a variety of workshops. For a multitude of reasons that was truncated midway through festival development. That in turn necessitated exclusion of the workshops, and a painful trimming of the proposed speaker list. In turn, that resulted in some hurt feelings and a few folks who took the cut as a personal insult. 
Interestingly enough, the idea of tying a conference and workshops to the festival predated the historic event in Anaheim last year. The idea in mind was to blend the family reunion aspect of the festival with a program that fostered communication, the sharing of ideas, and the development of cooperative partnerships. 
Several weeks ago when it was becoming apparent that the sanctioning body for the annual Route 66 International Festival, the Route 66 Alliance, would not be sponsoring an event in 2015, I responded to a number of inquiries from representatives in several communities that had expressed interest in hosting the festival, and initiated discussions with other communities that had talked of developing an event.
I informed them of the situation, provided an array of details, and in each instance offered my services as a consultant. I also offered to assist in the promotion of an event that they would develop and host.  
Even though the time proposed time for an event wasn't ideal, through the efforts of Cheryl Eichar Jett, the City of Edwardsville stepped into the breech. They approved hosting the conference and tying their historic Halloween parade with a celebration of Route 66. 
Within two weeks a suitable venue had been secured, a wide array of endorsements were obtained, and things were moving forward. However, a lack of concrete information about what activities would constitute the event in Edwardsville (they have only had a few weeks), and miscommunication created serious concern as well as much needed debate in a very passionate Route 66 community. 
Unfortunately it also provided an opportunity for a few individuals who would rather fan the flames of dissension than offer solutions. As a result the progress made in developing a unified sense of community as well as community purpose was jeopardized, just as it was after the conference in Anaheim. 
I am the first to admit that the late October date is not ideal. However, it provides an interim solution as plans develop for 2016 and beyond. 
The conference, and workshops, should become an integral part of each festival. To separate them by location or date would be counterproductive. 
However, if the event is held on an annual date in the fall, such as the anniversary of U.S. 66 certification, the Route 66 business community would be in a better position to participate and contribute, but the Route 66 enthusiast would be hindered. If it is held during the months of summer as is traditional, the Route 66 enthusiast is provided a better opportunity for attendance with their families but the business community is excluded from participation.
So, my question is why can't we utilize the wonders of modern technology as we did in Kingman? Why not develop the annual festival for the same dates of each year? Why can't we host a televised conference, with inclusion of speakers representing the Route 66 business community from towns along Route 66? Why can't we televise the workshops?
The template for each festival would look something like this:
Evening reception at kick off -
Conference and workshops during the week -
Evening activities -
Weekend would center on the traditional festival events -
It would also be imperative that festival development is organized on a 24 month schedule, ideally, or at the very least, an 18 month schedule. Now, with that said, Scott Piotrowski has taken the bull by the horns and is laying groundwork for a traditional festival with conference component in Los Angeles in 2016.
In a more perfect world this would be the initiation of the countdown to the centennial. The culmination would be a week long event in 2026 that commenced in Springfield, Missouri (birthplace of Route 66) and ended with a bang in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 
Of course for any of this to develop in a manner that has any semblance of continuity with maximum benefit for the host cities as well as the Route 66 community, there will need to be a centralized organization that oversees development of the festivals. 
I mean absolutely no disrespect to the Route 66 Alliance or the National Historic Route 66 Federation. However, the overseeing organization needs better representation from the Route 66 community. 
A rough thought for development is this. 
One, the organization has a director elected for a five year period. This may seem like a lengthy time but there is a need for the development of cooperative relationships with the Route 66 community. 
The board of directors consists of one member from each of the state Route 66 associations. That member is elected by the state association and serves for two years. International associations appoint one advisor for each organization. 
The primary purpose of this organization is to appoint a host city for the festival, provide a template of development for the host city, provide assistance in promotion, and provide assistance in the acquisition of sponsors. 
Each member including advisors is allowed one vote for the selection of a host city. The host cities will be appointed on a 24 month schedule. 
The meeting of this organization would be annual. It would be included as part of the festival and it would be televised. 
Okay, thoughts, ideas, suggestions?    
       

MEET JIM HINCKLEY

My Photo

I was born in North Carolina but am a product of the desert southwest with its vast, panoramic landscapes where spires of weathered stone cast long shadows under cloudless skies. It was there that I became enamored with the road less traveled, adventures on those forgotten roads, and the people you meet along the way.
For more than forty years I have explored the hidden places, the forgotten places, hungered for the colorful history found there, and sought the empty highways and dusty tracks that were once pathways to opportunity and the land of dreams.
These adventures and a fascination for the history of the formative years of the American automobile industry, and the resultant societal evolution, are the foundational elements of my published work. This work includes a former position as associate editor with Cars & Parts magazine and a monthly column, The Independent Thinker, and more than one thousand feature articles for various magazines and newspapers.
Additionally, I have written more than ten books that reflect these interests and chronicle my adventures including Checker Cab Manufacturing Company Illustrated History, The Big Book of Car Culture, Backroads of Arizona, Route 66 Backroads, Ghost Towns of the Southwest, Ghost Towns of Route 66, Route 66 Treasures, and The Route 66 Encyclopedia.
Meeting with tour groups, speaking engagements, providing travel planning assistance, and lectures round out what has become known as affectionately as Jim Hinckley's America.
In addition, my wife and I are also photographers with a lengthy and colorful resume of work appearing in magazines and books, on corporate websites, in a wide array of promotional material, and now, a photo exhibition in the Czech Republic. Our prints are currently sold through a limited partnership with Legends of America.
This would include prints of photos appearing on our blog, Route 66 Chronicles.

Author Jim Hinckley

Author Jim Hinckley
Somewhere on the road less traveled

Jim Hinckley

Jim Hinckley
Jim Hinckley in his native habitat, the road less traveled

Follow the camels!

Follow the camels!
Follow the camels to Kingman

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