Route 66 Society board meets June 2, 2020

The Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society board practiced social distancing Tuesday by meeting in the foyer of the Lebanon-Laclede County Library, which remains closed during the pandemic. Attendance was limited to board members for the second straight month. From left: Nicole McGinnis, Michael Boggs, Bill Jones, President Bruce Owen, Chuck Jordan, John Stowe, Secretary Cathy Dame, Vice President Leland Townsend and Treasurer Cliff Claxton. Not pictured: Gary Sosniecki.

Lebanon’s Route 66 Festival on June 20 should benefit from similar events having been canceled, the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society board agreed at its monthly meeting Tuesday.

“Ours is coming at a time when people are going to be feeling more comfortable,” festival chairman Nicole McGinnis said. McGinnis, who also is Lebanon’s tourism director and a Route 66 Society board member, noted that the Lebanon Route 66 Festival is an outside event with a smaller crowd, and the site, Boswell Park, is easily accessible from Interstate 44.

McGinnis said she thought the Lebanon Route 66 Festival would benefit “even before these other events started canceling.” She added that the festival is being advertised widely.

The steering committee for Springfield’s Birthplace of Route 66 Festival announced Monday that the 2020 event will be canceled “due to COVID-19 concerns.” Attendance this year was projected at 75,000. Attendance on the Saturday of the Lebanon Route 66 Festival has been about 2,500 the past two years.

Car clubs from Springfield already are contacting Route 66 Society members about attending the Lebanon festival, Route 66 Society board member Gary Sosniecki reported. He said reaction on Facebook to the Lebanon festival still being held is positive.

“Ultimately it comes down to your own personal decision and your own responsibility how to handle things” in the wake of the pandemic, McGinnis said. “We’ll offer (the festival) up to people who are comfortable with their decision.”

Board member Bill Jones suggested that signs be posted at Boswell Park to encourage social distancing. McGinnis said that will be discussed at Wednesday’s meeting of the festival committee.

Unlike some events, “there’s no one place where anyone has to be” at any particular time, McGinnis said, adding that attendees bring their own lawn chairs and can place them apart from others.

She reported that all locations for food vendors are full, but craft vendors still may sign up with Jessica Fox at (417) 532-4642.

Scheduled events include the car parade on Route 66, ending at the park; a concert by Dawson Hollow; face-painting; two bounce houses; a cornhole tournament organized by the Elks lodge and National Guard activities.

U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who began her teaching career in Lebanon, will be the parade’s grand marshal.

The festival T-shirts again will be sponsored by a Route 66 business, this year Starnes Auto Body and Glass. The gray shirts will feature Alva Starnes’ 1955 Chevy Bel-Air and member Dave Chastain’s 1956 Chevy Bel-Air.

This will be Lebanon’s 13th Route 66 Festival and the fourth 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. The city of Lebanon’s Tourism Department joins the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society and the Lebanon Parks and Recreation department as hosts this year.

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