Hearts beat as Route 66 Mother Road Festival approaches
If the rumble of a 1968 Pontiac GTO gets your heart racing or the sight of a 1957 Chevy Bel Air brings back fond memories, you might want to make plans to visit downtown Springfield for the Sixth Annual International Route 66 Mother Road Festival and Car Show Sept. 28-30.
Between 700 and 900 cars from virtually every era are expected to be on display during the weekend show, and organizers have also lined up visits from celebrities and plenty of live music.
Organizers say what sets the Springfield event apart from other car shows is that it combines a car show and a street festival.
"Almost every weekend in the summer, you can find a car show somewhere," said Kim Rosendahl, president of the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival. "I think what sets us apart is our location - being in the downtown area. A lot of car shows are out at a fairground, which the guys don't mind. (But the guys) often come to these things with their wives and groups of friends, and they are looking for things to do. They love the ambiance of downtown."
This year's festival begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, with the traditional cruise from the Illinois Department of Transportation building on Dirksen Parkway to downtown Springfield. The cars will head south on Dirksen to westbound Stevenson Drive and turn north on Sixth Street, which the cars will take all the way into the downtown.
Racing legend Shirley Muldowney will be the cruise grand marshal.
The area around the Old Capitol Plaza will be closed to traffic other than festival participants, and food, beverage and souvenir booths will be set up throughout downtown. People will be able to walk around downtown and get a close-up look at all of the cars on display.
Two stages will offer free music, and Gasoline Alley - an area where people can learn about metalwork, painting and engine rebuilds - will be back on the north side of the Old Capitol Plaza.
"Gasoline Alley is always packed. All you have to do is rev up an engine and people swarm down there," Rosendahl said.
One visitor to Gasoline Alley will be Chuck Hanson, former star of Horsepower TV. He's been at the festival before, and this year, he will be bringing his former partner and current star of Horsepower TV, Joe Elmore.
While cars are the main focus of the event, there will also be plenty of live entertainment
"We are really happy about the entertainment lineup this year. I think it's probably one of the best lineups we've ever had," Rosendahl said.
The free stages at Fifth Street and Capitol Avenue and Seventh and Washington streets will be covered. Last year, the evening entertainment for Friday had to be cancelled due to the weather.
"Last year on Friday we had to go dark on our stages simply because there was a threat of rain and storms," Rosendahl said. "We have covered stages this year, so, barring a tornado coming down Sixth Street, it won't be dark. There will be great entertainment going on Friday night and all day Saturday.
The festival and all of the downtown concerts are free. The only paid event is the Saturday Night Sock Hop at the Prairie Capital Convention Center, which begins at 8 p.m.
The sock hop wasn't held in 2005 and 2006, but the event, headlined by Frankie Avalon, is back for this year.
Tickets range from $16 to $26 at the convention center box office, and are also available at TicketMaster.com.
Rosendahl said organizers had several requests to bring the sock hop back.
"The whole idea at the beginning of doing the convention center was having something that was totally weather protected, that could go on no matter how bad the weather got," Rosendahl said.
The last formal festival event is the awards presentation, which is set to begin at 2 p.m. Sunday on the south stage.
In past years, police have estimated the crowd at 70,000 for the entire weekend.
"They come from all over the United States," Rosendahl said. "Last year, we had people from 31 states and at least eight countries."
John Reynolds can be reached at 788-1524 or email@example.com
Two entertainment stages will be set up for the 2007 International Route 66 Mother Road Festival in downtown Springfield Sept. 28-30.
The south stage will be at Fifth Street and Capitol Avenue and the north stage at Seventh and Washington streets. Except for the Sock Hop at the Prairie Capital Convention Center, all events are free.
Tickets for the Sock Hop range from $16 to $26 at the convention center box office. they are also available at TicketMaster.com.
*Friday, Sept. 28
-- ABBA Gold (two shows), 7:45 to 8:45 p.m. and 9:45 to 10:45 p.m. on the south stage.
-- Butch Wax and the Hollywoods (two shows), 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on the north stage.
Saturday, Sept. 29
KAVAN, America's Young Elvis (three shows), 2 to 2:45 p.m., 3:45 to 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 6:15 p.m., south stage.
Just for Kicks (two shows), 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., north stage.
Saturday Sock Hop with Frankie Avalon, 8 p.m., Prairie Capital Convention Center.
Sunday, Sept. 30
Car Show Awards, 2 to 2:45 p.m., south stage.
BROADWELL -- A marker has been placed at the site of the Pig Hip Restaurant Museum, a Route 66 icon that was destroyed by a fire in March.
The marker, a bronze plaque set in pink Wisconsin granite, was installed by Bob Olson, a longtime friend of Pig Hip proprietor Ernie Edwards.
"After the fire in March, we were constantly explaining to people why the Pig Hip wasn't there anymore," Olsen said. "We were explaining the same thing over and over again."
The Pig Hip Restaurant was about 8 miles south of Lincoln in Broadwell. Ernie Edwards and his wife, Francis, served food at the restaurant from 1937 to 1991.
Originally, the restaurant was known as the Harbor Inn, but the name was changed a few years after it opened, when a farmer came inand, gesturing to a ham on the counter, told Edwards, "Just give me a piece of that pig hip."
After it closed in 1991, the restaurant was turned into a museum for Route 66 artifacts.
The marker for the restaurant and museum was set in place Aug. 5, which was Ernie Edwards' 90th birthday.
He is expected to be at the formal dedication ceremony for the marker, which has been scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Sept. 28, which is the first day of the Sixth Annual International Route 66 Mother Road Festival.