SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – With summer coming soon, some businesses in Springfield say they hope this means they can finally bounce back.
The History Museum on the Square tells OzarksFirst they’re especially excited for the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival. Executive Director Katie Turer says her museum usually sees lots of visitors when the festival is in town. But here’s the thing: downtown Springfield hasn’t been able to celebrate the Mother Road since 2019.
“It’s extremely important to have the festival back this year,” Turer said. “We’re really excited about it. We hope that with the last couple years of it being away, we just drive in more people this year. The Route 66 Festival is definitely the pinnacle of the summer for us, so we’re looking forward to it a lot.”
August 2022 will be Springfield’s third attempt at throwing its 10th annual Route 66 celebration. The pandemic got in the way the first two times, which made things tough for Turer’s team.
“It’s been a tough couple of years here at the museum because of COVID and everything going on. We’ve seen varying levels of attendance, and fewer people out and about in general.”
She tells OzarksFirst the last time the Queen City celebrated Route 66, she saw people from all over the world, including Europe, Australia, and Asia.
“People love traveling Route 66. Just recently that started to pick back up again.”
In March, the City of Springfield announced it will extend its Mother Road celebration by a day. The festival will run from August 11 through the 13 in 2022.
Director of public information and civic engagement Cora Scott tells OzarksFirst this time around, she’s looking forward to seeing how the festival can help the local economy.
“The old saying is you don’t know what you missed until it’s gone,” Scott said. “A lot of people have reached out to us and said they really look forward to the Route 66 festival as a symbol that things are getting back to normal. We just took an opportunity to expand it because we think there’s going to be bigger interest than ever.”
Scott says a longer festival will bring more folks downtown.
“From all around the world we have people who want to follow Route 66. That boost to our tourism economy is going to be very good.”
In 2019, more than 65,000 people went to the event. Scott says Springfield wants to see between 70 to 75,000 people in 2022.
“We’re pretty confident we’ll exceed those expectations.”