Celebrate the Ozarks: The international mystery on Route 66

Published: Aug. 9, 2019 at 8:32 AM CDT
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Springfield's Birthplace of Route 66 festival kicks off on Friday August 9th. If you go, you'll hear a number of unfamiliar accents. So, we wondered... how many foreign visitors travel the mother road through Springfield?

A lot of times journalists want numbers in a story. This story features a prominent set of sixes.

Susan Wade of The Convention and Visitor's Bureau reads out loud from a visitor's guest book, "We have some folks from Florence, Italy." She goes on to mention, "Here we have Brazil again..."

While we have country names and a guess on how many international travelers come through Springfield on The Mother Road, we don't have an official study to pinpoint their numbers and impact on the economy.

"We really don't know how many international visitors come down route 66. (I) just cannot find good research on that," comments Wade.

"If you're looking for the 66 traveler, sometimes the cell phone points to them. They're the ones taking selfies in front of anything and everything... 66," noticed KY3's Paul Adler.

But, when it comes to international travelers, don't look at the plates or pick up the phone. Instead, you can find them getting their kicks at Springfield's self-proclaimed international Hotel called The Rail Haven.

"It's kinda interesting. I try to guess the accents," laughed Lora VanKooten of The Rail Haven Motel.

It's not just Italians today. The Irish come here to The Rail Haven too for a look at America.

" keep telling people it's like when we're in uh..., watching Charlie and the Chocolate factory... When the little guy is transported into the T-V..That's what it's like for us," remarked visitor Breda McGrath of Ireland.

Whatever the number, it's clear people want a trip back in time and a chance to see America up close and in person.

"We want to see the real America... authentic America," concluded McGrath.

Breda and her family are in the states for 16 days.

Meantime, The Convention and Visitors Bureau does ask you to be friendly to those international travelers. Paul is told they tend to spend more in America than home grown travelers.