Festival planning begins

Cliff Claxton, left, treasurer of the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society, Bruce Owen, president, and Jessica Fox, chairman of the festival committee, at Tuesday's first planning meeting for the 2021 Lebanon Route 66 Festival.

Mark your calendar: The 2021 Lebanon Route 66 Festival again will be on Father’s Day weekend and again will be a two-day event, the festival committee decided at its first planning meeting Tuesday.

Saturday events on June 19 again will be at Route 66-themed Boswell Park. And the committee agreed to have activities on Friday evening, June 18, probably a cruise-in in downtown Lebanon. Friday activities weren’t held this year as the festival was scaled back to a single day because of the pandemic.

This will be Lebanon’s 14th Route 66 Festival and the fifth in a row on Father’s Day weekend at Boswell Park. Lebanon’s first Route 66 Festival was held in 2001 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Mother Road. Hosts again will be the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society and the Lebanon Parks and Recreation and Tourism departments.

The committee discussed having a festival theme that ties in with the Missouri Bicentennial, which will be celebrated in 2021.

Final decisions will be made in the months ahead, but the committee discussed possible entertainment, possible parade grand marshals, possible masters of ceremonies and possibly trying to hold another decorated-bike contest and bike parade, which were tried in 2019, if an event chairman can be found.

The committee is confident that the city will erect an amphitheater in Boswell Park before the 2021 festival, eliminating the Route 66 Society’s expense of renting a stage, but a sound system still will be needed.

A backup location in case of rain will be the Cowan Civic Center, where the first Lebanon Route 66 Festival was held two decades ago.

Jessica Fox, the city’s promotions manager, will serve as committee chairman after assisting then-tourism director Nicole McGinnis, last year’s chairman.

Also attending Tuesday’s meeting were Bruce Owen, Leland Townsend, Cliff Claxton and Gary Sosniecki from the Route 66 Society; Ashton Light, executive director of the Lebanon Downtown Business District; and Ashley Sicard, administrative assistant to the city administrator.

The committee will meet again at 9 a.m. Oct. 20 at the Cowan Civic Center conference room.

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