Guest Column: Route 66 festival is an opportunity for Kingman

In an effort to dispel rumor and conjecture about the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce assuming the leadership position for development of the International Route 66 Festival, and to explain this event's potential long-term impact for the city, I am of the opinion that clarification is needed.

From the inception of planning for this festival, a foundational component was a belief that in the process of transforming a community into a destination, you make it a place people want to live, to open a business and to raise a family. Additionally, this planning process is an ideal catalyst for creating a unified sense of community purpose.

The unique nature of this annual festival also provides us with an opportunity to introduce the wide array of attractions in the Kingman area to an international audience. It also should serve as a catalyst for harnessing the Route 66 renaissance to foster future development, as well as promotion.

Numerous published reports estimate an attendance of 10,000 people. While this is a possibility, a more realistic expectation is for 3,000 to 5,000 visitors, many of whom will travel to Kingman from other countries.

As to concerns about the heat of August, please consider that Kingman is much cooler than the Colorado River communities or Phoenix. Additionally, by choosing the weekend of Aug. 16, it allows for promotion of the annual Hualapai Mountain Resort crafts fair as well as Chillin' on Beale, and it is in the peak season for Route 66 travel.

In recent years, Route 66 has morphed into a linear community. As a result, the annual festival historically consists of three components: a festival that highlights the unique attributes of the host city, a gathering of Route 66 enthusiasts that is very much like a large family reunion, and a celebration of this iconic highway's history.

This year, a fourth component was added, and that is an opportunity to present Kingman as a progressive community, as well as one firmly rooted in history, and to ensure Route 66 remains relevant for a new generation. To that end, the festival will include an international assemblage of electric vehicle enthusiasts, as well as vehicles representing more than a century of electric car evolution.

We have visitors coming to this event from Amarillo and the Czech Republic, Germany and St. Louis, Albany and New Zealand, Tokyo and Amsterdam, Canada and Brazil. Now, all we have to do is to come together as a community with the Chamber of Commerce providing coordinated leadership, roll out the red carpet, and prepare to enjoy a spectacular and historic weekend.

Jim Hinckley is a local author and expert on Route 66.