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14th annual Route 66 Festival kicks off Friday

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The Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society is getting ready to celebrate the Mother Road with the 14th Route 66 Festival this weekend. 

Highlights will include three classic-car cruise-ins, a parade and lots of live music over the two-day event presented by Heritage Bank June 18 and 19.

Jessica Rodden is festival chairman for a committee that is turning the annual festival into a multi-day event located at several locations.

“This committee has put in a year’s worth of time and energy to make sure that our community has an event that will be around for years to come,” Rodden said. 

“This year we’ve added a Friday evening portion to the event, which actually occurs downtown, it’s the kickoff for the festival,” Rodden said. Saturday will be a full day of events, including a parade.

“We wanted to make sure we brought the festival feel back,” Rodden said. “It’s more than just a four-hour event, it starts Friday evening and it’s all day Saturday with different locations as well. That brings everybody down Route 66 and incorporates our downtown as well.”

The kick-off event is a cruise-in on Friday evening from 5 to 10 p.m. in downtown Lebanon.

Commercial Street will be blocked off at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. Classic Cars will enter at Jackson and Washington to park along Commercial Street starting at 5pm. 

There will be food trucks and craft vendors at the Market from 5-8pm. EMJ DJ will be at Adams and Commercial from 6-9 p.m. Phat Mike and the Bartenders will be performing at Madison and Commercial Street from 5-10 p.m. 

In addition to the entertainment,  custom souvenir T-shirts and passports will be available at Adams, Madison and at the Market. T-shirts will be available in two colors for $20. Passports are available for $5. The passports include 15 stops at Downtown businesses that are representing a historic site along Route 66 in Laclede County. Stop in each business to get a stamp. Turn your passport in at the end of the night for the chance to win prizes. The first 25 to turn in their passport with 10 of the 15 businesses will receive two tickets to enter to win a custom Route 66 pendant necklace made and donated by Layla’s Fine Jewelry and Repair and/or a one-night stay for two people at the Guest Apartment by Commercial Street Studio. The first 25 will also receive a Downtown Lebanon tumbler. Each participant will also receive an entry for every 5 stops to be entered to win one of three gift baskets valuing over $150 each. The items in the gift basket are donated by the participating Downtown Businesses. 

Downtown businesses will be hosting fun events Friday evening. There will be a hula hoop contest at Falcon Floor Covering, swing dance lessons at Rewind Fast Forward, free temporary tattoos for kids at Rebel Ink Tattoo, snacks and more at Vintage Flower Market, kids’ activities at Realty Executives, a kissing booth with Hershey Kisses at Shades of Gray Boutique, live art demonstrations on the sidewalk along with craft booths inside of the Lebanon Art Guild, a sidewalk market at The Cowlick Dry House until 7 p.m. Many retail stores are having special sales for the event.

Ashton Light, Downtown Business District Executive Director, thanked the presenting sponsor, The Rail 1868 Restaurant and Tavern, for their  support of this event. 

“We would also like to thank our supporting sponsors, Lebanon Route 66 Society and Mercy Hospital of Lebanon for their support. We would also like to thank our Board and Committee members for putting in the hours it takes to plan these large events, as well as the City for their constant support and cooperation. This is truly a community event and it takes the whole community coming together to pull it off,” Light said.

“This is a great opportunity to bring tourist traffic and locals alike into our Downtown,” Light said. “There has been so much progress made lately, and we cannot wait to show it off. We hope that this is an event and partnership that can grow each year. Bring your cars, bring your family and friends, and get ready for a fun night for everyone.”

Day two of the festival begins at Boswell Park, hosted by the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society in partnership with Lebanon Parks and Recreation and Lebanon Tourism. In case of rain, events will be moved indoors to the Cowan Civic Center. 

Activity begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Boswell Park with a bike parade and decorated-bike contest for kids at the murals at 9 a.m. 

At 9 a.m. cars will line up at Wyota Drive across from Laclede Electric for the annual parade.  The parade starts at 10 a.m. and travels to Utah Street to enter Boswell Park, where the festival is held, for a cruise-in until 3 p.m. Each parade vehicle receives a ticket for the $66 drawings to be given away at the festival.

Mrs. Norma Bledsoe  who has lived on Route 66 for more than half a century will lead the parade as grand marshal.

Any classic or unique vehicles, including motorcycles, are welcome to join the parade.   

Other activities at Boswell Park include opening ceremonies at 11 am, hourly give-aways, live music by The Bucket Band, food trucks, a cornhole tournament, inflatables, face painting and more. The Bucket Band, from Kansas City, performed at the 2019 festival and is being brought back by popular demand.

The new Boswell Park amphitheater is scheduled to be completed in time for Saturday’s events.  

At 4 p.m. the festivities move to the Munger Moss Motel on Route 66. The Munger Moss is celebrating 75 years in business with a hog roast, live music by the Blue Collar Kings, inflatables and more.

Across the road at The Vintage Cowgirl and Wrink’s Market, activities include a cruise-in, a petting zoo, pony rides and a burn-out pit sponsored by Tires, Brakes and More.

The festival is an official Missouri Bicentennial event with the theme of “200 Years of Missouri, 95 Years of Route 66.”

This is Lebanon’s 14th Route 66 Festival since 2001 and the fifth year that events have been held at  Boswell Park in partnership with Lebanon Parks and Recreation.

In case of rain, Saturday’s daytime events will be moved indoors to the Cowan Civic Center.

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