Local author and historian Jim Hinckley, with the help of the community, recently prepared a Route 66-themed gift basket to be given away through the Internet magazine "Route 66 The Mother Road" at October's Cuba Fest, a celebration of the historical highway in Cuba, Mo.
Hinckley worked with Councilwoman Carole Young, Kingman Area Books are Magic organizer Kristi Turman and Kingman Director of Tourism Josh Noble to assemble the basket, which contains nearly $600 worth of goodies.
Contents include a two-night stay at the El Trovatore Motel, gift certificates to local restaurants and cafés, three sets of tickets to Kingman museums, various pieces of memorabilia - including a framed Route 66 photo from the Miner's own JC Amberlyn - a pound of coffee from Beale Street Brews and a necklace of Kingman turquoise.
"This basket is a way for us to capitalize on the fact that Kingman is a destination," Turman said. "It's an opportunity to represent ourselves as a destination and show the community as well."
There's undeveloped tourist potential all along Route 66, Hinckley said. Herds of international travelers come through here, he said. The goal is to get them to stay for a bit when they pass through.
"Our community loves to share," Hinckley said of the basket. "Whoever wins this gets to see Kingman through the eyes of the people."
Increasing interest in Kingman as a destination internationally will work as a boon for development because people want to live where others want to visit, Hinckley said.
"Capitalizing on something this lucrative is common sense," he said.
Young said Hinckley approached her about the promotion and asked her to help market Kingman as a destination. She shared his excitement and, in turn, was able to bring others together to build the basket.
"Tourists come through here in droves," she said. "Getting them to stop is another thing."
Kingman isn't the only town struggling to market its Route 66 appeal. John Springs, a California man who founded Internet-based magazine "Route 66 The Mother Road" with his wife Judy about a year ago, said he took a 23-day trip along Route 66 a couple years ago.
"I saw a bunch of small businesses hurting," Springs said. "And there was no cohesive effort to get them exposure."
So he and his wife launched the bi-monthly publication and started advertising for businesses along the Route 66. They run a ton of free advertisement for these small businesses.
"If you're a small business on Route 66, we're going to make sure you get some exposure whether you can afford to pay for it or not," he said. "Our goal is to help businesses out."
In many ways, the couple has done that. The magazine is read in over 80 countries, he said, and it went from having 70 percent of advertisers getting exposure for free to 30 percent in its short lifespan.
Even its writers work for free, basically.
"We pay our writers with milk shakes and pennies," he joked. Hinckley often writes for the publication as well.
The magazine is a one-stop shop for Route 66 enthusiasts to come together digitally and learn what's out there, he said.
"We make it easy for everybody to get up and down the road and find these places," Springs said.
Anyone in the world can enter the drawing for the Kingman gift basket and the other prizes made available to the magazine by communities along the Mother Road. Winners do not have to be in Cuba during the festival to win, either. People can enter the drawing by sending an email to Event@66TheMother-Road.com and explaining that they want to enter the Big Palooza Giveaway. The drawing takes place during the festival, Oct. 20-21. Check out the magazine at 66themotheroad.com.
When it comes to promoting Route 66 and uniting the communities along the road, one would be hard pressed to find someone more dedicated that Hinckley, Springs said.
"He's forgotten more about Route 66 than I've ever known," Springs said. "He does so much for the community. There would be a huge void without him. In fact, we need more people like him."