Route 66 “roadies” and others looking for good family fun on a holiday weekend will gather along the Main Street of America this Friday and Saturday as the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society presents the annual Lebanon Route 66 Festival.
This will be Lebanon’s 12th Route 66 Festival since 2001, the third in a row on Father’s Day weekend. Friday evening’s festivities will be at the corridor of businesses along East Route 66, and Saturday’s events will be at Route 66-themed Boswell Park. Saturday’s activities again are in partnership with the Lebanon Parks and Recreation Department.
All events are free and open to the public. Attendees should bring lawn chairs or blankets as no formal seating is available. This year, at least two large tents will be in front of the stage at Boswell Park so festivalgoers can enjoy the music without sitting in the sun.
“Celebrating Camp Joy” is this year’s festival theme in recognition of the Route 66 Society’s restoration of the sole surviving cabin from one of Lebanon’s first tourist courts, founded by the Spears family in 1927. A dedication ceremony that includes descendants of the Spears family is planned for 11:45 a.m. Saturday at the cabin, which recently was moved to Boswell Park.
“We’re really excited this 12th year of our festival,” general chairman Loretta Young said. “We’ve pulled in a lot of great people from the community who are participating. It all adds up to an exciting Father’s Day weekend.”
Friday night ‘Block Party’
Friday night of the Lebanon Route 66 Festival truly will be a celebration.
Springfield’s KY3 television will broadcast its 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts from the Route 66 Block Party, the festival’s opening-night promotion, as part of the station’s summer “Celebrate the Ozarks” series.
The 6 p.m. newscast also will be simulcast on KSPR, Channel 33.
The Route 66 Block Party will be from 4 p.m. to dark June 14 at three participating businesses on East Route 66: The Vintage Cowgirl at Wrinks Market, Tires, Brakes and More and the Munger Moss Motel.
Celebrate the Ozarks will be based at the Munger Moss. KY3 marketing director Spencer Ernst said the onsite event for spectators wanting to meet the team and sign up for an HDTV drawing starts at 4 p.m.
The Friday cruise-in – the first of two at the festival – also will be at the Munger Moss. Owner Ramona Lehman said the 2019 Chevy Corvette that the Chevy Dealers of the Ozarks and KY3 are giving away this year will be on display at the Munger Moss during the cruise-in. She said KY3 also will have an ice-cream social.
Also car-related on Friday night, Tires, Brakes and More will feature a burnout pit.
The Thorni Ridge Exotics Petting Zoo will be set up at Wrinks Market from 5 to 7 p.m. The petting zoo will include kangaroos, fainting goats, the second-largest rodent in the world, a camel, a llama, reptiles, a porcupine and a hedgehog.
Other activities at Wrinks Market will include bounce houses, kids’ and family games, horseshoes, cornhole, a dunk tank and face painting.
“Phat Mike and the Bartenders” will perform from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the grassy strip between Wrinks Market and Tires, Brakes and More. DJ Mikee Mike will follow the band with music until dark.
Food and drink will be available. Vendors will be scattered around the three businesses.
Vehicles participating in the cruise-in Friday should park at the Munger Moss. Others attending should park either at the former Forest Manor Motel or in the field behind Wrinks Market.
Saturday at Boswell Park
The festival will have a new layout Saturday at Boswell Park.
“We’re putting the stage closer to the cars, closer to the crowd,” Young said. Crafters and Route 66 memorabilia vendors – at least 15 are expected -- will be in an area behind the murals. Food vendors will be around the shelter next to the playground.
“The goal is, we’re putting everything closer and more compact so there’s less walking for the crowd from one area to the other,” she said. “It’s easier to catch all the events.”
A new event at this year is the Bicycle/Tricycle Parade and Decorated Bike Contest. Children in two age groups -- 5 and under, 6 to 12 – will compete to win prizes for the best-decorated bikes with a Route 66 theme. The decorations can have anything to do with Route 66 locally or nationally.
Registration is from 8:30 to 8:45 a.m. Saturday at the shelter by the murals. The bike parade around the mural cul-de-sac will start at 9 a.m. Children’s games, next to the playground, will follow the bike parade.
Also at 9 a.m., classic, antique and custom cars will start lining up for the Route 66 Parade on Wyota Drive in the Lebanon Industrial Park, east of the Munger Moss on Route 66. There is no entry fee and no preregistration.
The parade will roll at 10 a.m., ending with a cruise-in at Boswell Park. Ramona Lehman, who celebrated her 48th anniversary as owner of the Munger Moss this month, will be the grand marshal.
Saturday’s cruise-in will have a new twist. Five “fun” trophies will be awarded by local celebrities. One car will be awarded a trophy for "Most Likely to Get a Ticket on the Way Home."
In a tribute to the Route 66 era, Saturday’s music will have a ’60s theme. Featured performers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. will be The Bucket Band, a Kansas City-based cover band that, according to its website, focuses on “the time when Top 40 Radio reigned supreme.”
The band will take a break at 11:45 a.m. for the Camp Joy cabin dedication, which will occur at the cabin.
Among those expected to have a display Saturday is the Missouri National Guard.
The festival will end at 2 p.m.
This year’s festival T-shirts, which feature a 1966 Pontiac GTO, are sponsored by C&J’s Classic & Muscle Cars in celebration of its 20th anniversary. Shirts will be available at the Route 66 Society’s blue-and-white striped tent. Route 66 Society memberships will be sold at a separate tent near the Camp Joy cabin.
Young said parking is available at “many lots close to the venue, and we’ll be running shuttles for those not within walking distance.”
The Route 66 Festival does not have a rain date. Young said Friday’s KY3 newscasts from the Route 66 Block Party will occur rain or shine. As for the other events, “if it sprinkles, we’ll work between the sprinkles.”