A $1,000 college scholarship will be presented to the winner of the Miss Route 66 Pageant thanks to sponsors Alva and Sonja Starnes of Starnes Auto Body & Glass.
The return of the Miss Route 66 Pageant and Little Mr. and Miss pageants were among the new events planned for the 2023 Lebanon Route 66 Festival, presented by Lake Regional Health System, that were announced Tuesday to the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society board.
Also announced were an appearance by Bigfoot, which generally is regarded as the first monster truck, and a Route 66 scavenger hunt.
The Lebanon Route 66 Festival will be held Saturday, June 3 — two weeks earlier than in recent years — with activities starting at 10 a.m. at Route 66-themed Boswell Park and moving at 4 p.m. to Route 66 businesses on the east side of town.
Sonja Starnes told the board that the Miss Route 66 Pageant and the Little Mr. and Miss pageants will be patterned after the pageants held annually at Conway Community Days. Although a new pageant committee will work out the details, high-school girls, tentatively freshmen through seniors, including 2023 graduates, will be eligible to compete for the $1,000 scholarship. Three judges will interview the contestants privately, probably on the Friday night before the festival.
Tentatively, kindergarten through fourth-grade boys and girls will enter the Little Mr. and Miss pageants by placing penny-a-vote jars around town. The winners will be those who raise the most money.
“Right now, we’re just in the preliminary planning of it,” Starnes said Wednesday.
Winners will ride in the Route 66 Festival Parade on Saturday morning and also will be introduced on the festival stage. Starnes said they will reign over the entire festival.
Pageant details, including the theme and registration information, will be announced as the event nears.
Miss Route 66 pageants have not been held at the Lebanon Route 66 Festival in about 20 years.
Booking the famous Bigfoot monster truck to appear at the festival was approved by the Route 66 Society board after a presentation by Vice President Mike Boggs.
“That will be out big draw this year, something like Smokey and the Bandit last year,” Boggs said.
He explained that the truck will not be in the parade, that it will be hauled to Boswell Park and parked so that it can be seen from Route 66 and attract visitors to the festival.
Participants in the scavenger hunt will take their photos in front of local Route 66 landmarks that they will track down based on a list of clues, board member Carl Cones explained. The duration of the scavenger hunt — whether it will be on festival Saturday or start the night before — remains to be determined.
The festival’s first disc-golf putting tournament is “turning into quite a deal,” Boggs said.
The tournament, sponsored by Slim Chickens of Lebanon, is being organized by a Springfield promoter who deals in disc golf. Boggs said about three baskets will be set up in Boswell Park for the competitors.
The festival is the week before the Jared Hilton Memorial Tournament in Lebanon, thus disc golfers are expected to use the festival event to tune up.
“We really think we’re going to get over 100 players,” Boggs said.
Route 66 Society President Bruce Owen added: “Our goal is to make this an annual event.”
Previously announced: Route 66 Parade and 2 Cruise-ins
Festivities will begin Saturday morning with the annual Route 66 Parade sponsored by Graven Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram. Lineup is at 9 a.m. at the Lebanon Industrial Park at the east edge of town. Pre-registration is not required. The parade will roll at 10 a.m., traveling west on Route 66 to an all-day cruise-in at Route 66-themed Boswell Park.
A second cruise-in will start at 4 p.m. as the festival moves to Route 66 businesses on the east side of town with music and activities continuing throughout the evening.
Previously announced: Five bands to perform
Music begins at 10 a.m. with the country sounds of the Spring Hollow Band. Taking the stage at 11 a.m. is The Baker Family, a high-energy bluegrass band that includes 2022 Grand Master Fiddler Champion Trustin Baker. The Baker Family appeared on Season 12 of America’s Got Talent.
At 12:30 p.m., The Blue Collar Kings will perform classic rock, blues and country.
The festival headliners, Bourbon House, a female-fronted rock band from Wisconsin, will be on stage at 1:30 p.m. Bourbon House filmed a music video in Laclede County last year.
Mitch Shields, a solo act, will be among the musicians performing Saturday night when the festival moves to businesses on east Route 66.
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