News Flash

City of Springfield News Releases (General)

Posted on: August 17, 2023

Birthplace of Route 66 Festival brings 65K downtown


The City of Springfield and partners Aaron Sachs & Associates/Ozarks on Two Wheels (presenting sponsor); KY3/KSPR; West Central Neighborhood Alliance; University Plaza and Rotary Clubs of Springfield hosted the 11th annual Birthplace of Route 66 Festival Aug. 10-12 in downtown Springfield. Organizers estimate the festival drew 65,000 people. Attendees from 22 states checked in at the information tent on Park Central Square. Info tent staff also spoke with visitors from seven different countries, including Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Colombia and Mexico. 

About 2,000 people joined the Emerald City Band for the Rockin’ the Route Concert and Street Party to kick off the festival Thursday evening.  

Many City departments, including the Department of Public Information & Civic Engagement, Public Works, Environmental Services, Police, Fire, Health, Parks, Planning and the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management provided significant support for the festival, 

Keeping residents and visitors alike safe, as well as all parts of the city accessible and welcoming, was a top priority during the three-day event. Continuous trash pick-up service by Environmental Services and Public Works kept the festival footprint clean, and continuous shuttle service provided by both City staff and volunteers made the mile-long footprint easier to navigate, particularly for those with physical handicaps.  

Festival founders Jack and Tammy Stinson served as the grand marshals of the Birthplace of Route 66 Parade Friday night. The Stinsons also received the John T. Woodruff Award for their contributions to preserving and celebrating Route 66. 

New to the festival this year was the Great Route 66 Talent Search. Long-time Springfield entertainer Vic Vaughan won the professional division and Brecka Henderson won the amateur category. They will now have an opportunity to audition for America’s Got Talent. Thanks to Councilwoman Monica Horton, Sam Timmerman, Ty Barnes and Jessie Cowen for judging the competition. 

The Kansas City Chiefs Champions Tour were a part of the festival this year, thanks for private donors and City of Springfield support. The Chiefs brought the Super Bowl Trophy to Springfield Expo Center, the use of which was donated by University Plaza. Chiefs alumni players Neil Smith, Danan Hughes and Brandon Williams joined Mayor Ken McClure and other elected officials in the ’57 Chevy Custom Float in Friday night’s parade. The event ended with a rally at the Aaron Sachs stage.  

Josie and Wilmer Erfling from Hermann were first-time visitors to the festival. They emailed the following detailing their experience:

“What a terrific time we had! We came with another couple to scope out your event for our small, local car club. Everything about it was so well planned for us. The city workers that blocked the streets with the BIG trucks were so helpful and pleasant. The drivers of the shuttles were all so friendly and helpful. We absolutely LOVED the Emerald City Band. If they are back next year, we will be back for sure. The ladies selling T-shirts were fun too! We loved the parade and the free food while waiting. All of the directions sounded so intimidating until we were on site; then it made so much sense! We stayed at the University Plaza, which was a perfect location for us. We will be back! Thank you for providing a wonderful event for car folks young and old. PS: Honestly, the rain was a welcome break ... time to rest and regroup!” 

Fun Facts

  • Total number of registered cars in the show: 560
  • Parade entries: 592
  • Vendors: 50 plus
  • Musical acts: 50 plus
  • 4 stages
  • Winners of the Talent Search:
    • Pro: Vic Vaughan
    • Amateur: Brecka Henderson
  • Estimated overall attendance: 65,000 despite rain.


For more information, please contact Cora Scott at 417-380-3352.

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