Victorville will host the 2012 International Route 66 Festival, a four-day event held annually in a city along the Mother Road.
For small towns along Route 66, hosting a festival that shows reverence to the highway is a chance to pull people off the Interstate--and make their town a stop for travelers once again. Up to 50,000 Route 66 fans are expected to attend the event, being held August 9th through 12th.
The announcement came Friday, and on Saturday volunteers at the small Route 66 Museum were celebrating with an extra box of donuts. The museum, along with other partners in the high desert city, will help host the pilgrimage.
The festival will attract 16 historical Route 66 associations, including international chapters, who want to gather and share stories or memorabilia. "They are called roadies," says Sharon Foster, volunteer coordinator for the museum filled with articles, photos and old signs.
And the museum is ready to supply neighborly exchange once found along the road's cafes when motorists "went through town and stopped for a cup of coffee and a hello, how-are-you," says Foster.
There are still tourists who travel through, hoping to sense that intimacy.
Even a crew from History Channel made a visit last week, taping a segment on Route 66.
The museum itself is located near a corner that was the right turn into California. "The town was the final stop before the promise land, after traveling in the desert," according to Foster. "A road is a road. But what we saw from people traveling are familiar with Route 66. We get 7,000 visitors a year. Out of that, 3,500 were international. To them, Route 66 is America."
Organizers for the festival--who knew for a month they were selected and already held meetings--plan to have day trips to nearby high desert cities that also had a role in highway lore. In town, the Green Tree Inn will host events, including conferences and a classic car show.
Last year's festival was held in Amarillo, Texas, and California was chosen to host the event in 2012. Victorville beat out bids from other cities, including Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, Santa Monica and nearby Barstow, said Foster.
The California Route 66 Museum is located at 16825 D Street, between Fifth Street and Sixth Street, in Old Town Victorville.