Route 66 Festival organizers announce 2020 entertainment as festival celebrates 10th year
The Birthplace of Route 66 Festival is returning to Springfield this summer.
The festival, which drew 65,000 in 2019, features an all-free musical lineup including live music acts on the KY3/KSPR stage in Park Central Square and local and regional favorites on the Aaron Sachs Stage just south of Jefferson Avenue and Park Central East. The headliners for the 2020 festival are Sixwire, featuring former lead singer of Kansas John Elefante and a former lead singer of Journey, Steve Augeri.
Other confirmed entertainment for 2020 include:
Mark Chapman Band
The Rosy Hips
Machine Gun Symphony
The Dirty Saints.
New to the festival this year is the Great Route 66 Talent Search. All ages and genres are welcome. Artists will perform live for a panel of judges with talent industry experience who will determine whether the artists will advance to the next levels of competition. Semifinalists will be invited to perform on the Park Central Square Stage, where 10 finalists will be named. Those 10 finalists will be winnowed down to one grand prize winner.
Classic cars always grab the attention of festival-goers. Car show registration will open online at 5 p.m. on March 3.
Returning to the festival this year is the Mother Roadster Foundation raffle benefiting Shriners Hospitals for Children. The 2020 Mother Roadster is a brand-new 1932 Ford Roadster, also known as “The Fezster,” and is named for all of the Shriners who have worn the iconic red cap and do so much to help the children at Shriners Children’s Hospital. This roadster, custom-built by Show Me Rod and Custom and Curry’s Hot Rod will be the third car given away by the Mother Roadster Foundation at the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival. The 2018 and 2019 raffles made it possible for the foundation to donate more than $70,000 to Shriners Hospitals.
Tickets can be purchased online at MotherRoadsterFoundation.com. The winner will be drawn Saturday, Aug. 15 after the car show awards on the Sachs stage. Ticket holders do not have to be present at the festival to win. Every ticket purchased contributes to the many thousands of dollars raised to benefit Shriners Hospitals.
Mother Roadster Foundation board members include Rick Hughlett, Rick’s Automotive; Jack Stinson, Stinson Building Company; Bill Hobbs, Kwik Kar Tire Pros; Kirk Wheeler, Wheeler Work Trucks; Larry Krauck, KOLR-TV/KOZL-TV; Terry Parrish, Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Temple; Dennis Hobbs; and Mike Edwards, a member of the Springfield-based Shriners Hospital Dads, who transport local children and their families from the Ozarks to Shriners Hospitals for treatment.
Also back this this year are the Authors, Artists, Collectors & Associations expo at The Old Glass Place, Vendor Village, the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival Parade and the 6.6K Run/3.3K Walk. Motorcycle Village on the east side of the festival footprint will again be in full swing with live music, demos, stunt shows, the Globe of Steel, Pogo Fred, the Gypsy Tour Poker Run and other motorcycle-geared entertainment and vendors.
Vendors interested in participating in this year’s festival should contact Tom Mast at masterfuleventsMO@gmail.com.
The mother road has also been a mother load for Springfield's economy. Over the last six years attendance has risen from 4,000 to 65,000, the number of vintage cars from 40 to 642 and the economic impact is estimated at $2 million.
"Oh my word, it's a big difference. It's the busiest day of the year." said Robin Davidson, a general manager with Big Whiskey's, who says the downtown business is overwhelmed when the festival hits.
"We break sales records year after year," Davidson said. "We always have a great turnout, packed wall to wall, down the streets, in the square. It's unbelievable, it really is."
"It's grown from a neighborhood festival to one of the top Route 66 festivals in the country," added Rusty Worley, the executive director of the Downtown Springfield Association.
Worley pointed out that it's not just the economy that's benefited from the festival. it's also played a role in the revitalization of the downtown area.
"Most importantly it gets people downtown to check out what's the latest," he said. "There's a lot of exciting new restaurants and retailers. We have over 60 restaurants, 20 pubs and clubs and over two dozen retailers."
The hope now is that businesses outside the Route 66 corridor will also benefit from the increased traffic and that the crowds won't get so big that they scare people away.
"There are a lot of people afraid to come downtown because there's so many street closures and so many warnings about that," said Nicole Brown, the owner of the MudLounge on Walnut Street. "It's fantastic to have nearly 70,000 people come to our downtown community but we're hoping we can show those people what we have to offer."
"People that are afraid to come downtown because of the crowds shouldn't be because along Route 66 it's crowded but outside of that there's still plenty of parking and plenty of businesses open," said Cricket Fries, the owner of A Cricket in the House on Walnut Street.
And of course there's that looming concern of any event that draws big crowds.
Cora Scott, the spokesperson for the city of Springfield said at a press conference to promote the event that the city office of emergency management and the health department are keeping a watchful eye on the threat.
"We are not planning to cancel or postpone (the Route 66 event)," Scott said. "But we just wanted you all to know that your city departments and your county is working together to keep people safe."