“The Route 66 Society wanted to have a festival again, and the park board wanted something to replace Hillbilly Days, which used to be held on Fathers’ Day weekend,”
LEBANON, Missouri- After a seven-year absence, Lebanon again will be host to a Route 66 festival June 16-17 thanks to a partnership between the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society and the Lebanon Parks and Recreation Department.
“The Route 66 Society wanted to have a festival again, and the park board wanted something to replace Hillbilly Days, which used to be held on Fathers’ Day weekend,” Bill Jones, president of the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society, said.
“So having a Route 66 Festival that weekend works perfectly for all of us.”
The 2017 Lebanon Route 66 Festival will be held in two locations, both on Route 66. On the Friday afternoon and evening, attendees will gather outside the 71-year-old Munger Moss Motel, one of only a handful of existing Lebanon businesses that were operating on Route 66 before it was bypassed locally by Interstate 44 in 1957.
On Saturday, activities will move to Boswell Park, which has been redeveloped with a Route 66 theme, including murals depicting local Route 66 history. The last two murals are scheduled to be unveiled that afternoon.
“We’re excited to put this festival together,” Loretta Young, chairman of the Route 66 Society’s Festival Committee, said. “The Route 66 Festival is a good way to remember our history and celebrate our rich heritage on Route 66 in Lebanon, Missouri.”
Previous Lebanon Route 66 Festivals were held from 2001 to 2009.
This year’s theme is “Celebrating 100 Years of The Ozark Trail,” recognizing the 100th anniversary of the June 27-29, 1917, convention in Amarillo, Texas, at which the “Northern Route” through Lebanon and Laclede County was selected to be on the Ozark Trail, a predecessor of Route 66.
Munger Moss co-owner Ramona Lehman said she envisions Friday afternoon and evening as a casual get-together. “I just want something where people can bring their chairs, sit around and visit — old-timers come and tell their stories about Route 66.
“I want people just to congregate and have fun.”
Similar to last year when the Munger Moss celebrated its 70th birthday and the 45th anniversary of Bob and Ramona Lehman’s ownership, antique, classic and custom cars are invited to a cruise-in at the motel, and the Tennessee-based US 66 Band, featuring Jess McEntire, will perform both in the afternoon and evening.
“I want people to dance out there,” Lehman said.
The band will auction off a guitar autographed by country-music legend Loretta Lynn. A portion of proceeds from CD sales will be donated by the band to the Route 66 Billboard Association.
Attendees on Friday evening are invited to dress in ’50s-themed costumes, with prizes for the best man’s and best woman’s costume.
Pig Pen BBQ of Lebanon will be serving barbecue starting about noon.
Saturday’s festivities will begin with a parade of antique, classic and custom cars at 10 a.m. Cars should line up starting at 9 a.m. on Wyota Drive in the Lebanon Industrial Park, east of the Munger Moss on Route 66.
The parade will travel west on Route 66 to Boswell Park. Although all classic cars are welcome to a cruise-in at 11 a.m. at Boswell Park, cars participating in the parade will be given priority parking positions.
Parking for other festival attendees will be available at Boswell Park, nearby businesses and at Nelson Park. A parking shuttle courtesy of Laclede Electric Cooperative will operate between Nelson and Boswell parks.
Attendees should bring lawn chairs and quilts, as no formal seating is available at the park.
Arts-and-crafts vendors will be selling handmade Ozark items all day, as will vendors offering Route 66 memorabilia, including the Route 66 Society, which will be selling festival T-shirts.
Young said local civic groups will serve hamburgers, hotdogs, funnel cakes, kettle corn and pork rinds.
Music will be provided all day by John Fensterer of Waynesville, who performs a virtual trip on Route 66. The US 66 Band will perform at 2:30 p.m.
Family games are planned for the morning, with a “Gasconade Bridge” casting contest for children at noon.
Following a flag ceremony at 1:30 p.m. and the singing of the National Anthem, the Route 66 Society will present a brief program, followed by the unveiling of the second and third Route 66 murals. That Saturday will be the last day donors of $100 or more to the Route 66 Mural Project will have their names added to the plaque that will be placed at the murals.
Festivities will conclude with the outdoor showing of the family movie “Sing” at 9 p.m.
With more than a month to go, the festival schedule continues to be fine-tuned.
“The festival is a puzzle,” Young said. “All the pieces are falling into place.”
(For more information: Loretta Young at (417) 718-5163 or Bill Jones at (417) 650-1895)