In the month of May, grassroots community partnerships put nearly 200 heads in beds.

Members of the Czech Route 66 Association make a stop in Kingman. Photo Judy Hinckley

During the months of April and May, community partnerships ensured that Kingman was a subject of discussions in dozens of countries. Now, looking to the future, community partnerships will magnify the success of April and May, and fuel an escalation of Kingman area tourism. And this is but the initial fruit from initiatives that launched when the city of Kingman hosted the Route 66 International Festival in the summer of 2014. Fittingly, the theme for that event was Kingman, crossroads of the past and future.

During the festival in 2014, an historic event took place; the first Route 66 conference that included representatives from more than six foreign Route 66 associations, as well as representatives from the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor program, owners of bicycle tour companies, and the president of the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation. 

Freddy van Hees and Sylvie Toullec met during the first European Route 66 Festival visit Kingman and link to the Route 66 Association of Kingman.

From that humble beginning the world’s first electric vehicle museum was established, and the semi annual European Route 66 festivals were launched, as was the annual Miles of Possibility Conference held in Illinois that has become the primary planning session for the Route 66 community. The event in Kingman also led Larry Clonts, economic development director in Shamrock, Texas, to negotiate for Tesla and electric charging stations to be installed at the city’s visitor center. The Route 66 Walk of Fame launched in Kingman during the festival, and later abandoned, inspired the mayor of Galena, Kansas to launch a similar initiative that has provided a portion of the funds needed to create pocket parks and murals, and other projects that have transformed the Route 66 corridor in that city. From humble beginnings the world is transformed.

In 2016, author Jim Hinckley (the Jim Hinckley’s America series), with financial assistance from the City of Kingman, the Route 66 Association of Kingman, Scott McCoy of the Gold Doctor, and Grand Canyon West, attended the first European Route 66 Festival, and made presentations on Route 66, Route 66 in the southwest, and Kingman, and distributed an array of promotional materials. He also represented the Route 66 The Road Ahead Partnership, and worked with European Route 66 association representatives to create the Route 66 International Advisory Group to coordinate the marketing and promotion of Route 66. During the festival, plans were laid for the for the first European Route 66 Tour.

In May 2018, the first European Route 66 Tour spent the evening in Kingman and through community partnerships, the red carpet was rolled out. The Route 66 Association of Kingman linked the historic event with their monthly meet and greet. Members of the Route 66 Cruizers, and the organizers of Chillin’ on Beale, provided transportation. Merchants in the historic business district graciously offered specials and joined together to ensure our guests had a memorable evening. Now, plans are well underway for an even larger tour in June 2019, and Kingman will again be an overnight stop.

Community partnerships will again ensure that Kingman, and the new Kingman Tourism initiative launched by MyMarketing Designs, as well as the greater Route 66 community is represented at major events this summer; the Texas Welcomes The World Route 66 International Festival in Shamrock, Texas, the second European Route 66 Festival in Zlin, Czechia, the Miles of Possibilities Conference in Carlinville, Illinois, and the Los Angeles County Fair as the theme is Route 66. In addition to a crowdfunding platform on Patreon, funding for Hinckley’s travel expenses are being provided by Kingman Chevrolet-Buick, the Route 66 Association of Kingman, the tourism office in Cuba, Missouri, and business owners in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Because of community partnerships, this spring visitors from throughout the world experienced the renaissance that is transforming the historic business district. Because of community partnerships, Kingman is becoming a destination. Need more evidence, ask the managers at Grand Canyon Caverns. They experienced double digit growth in 2017, and to date in 2018, have enjoyed double digit year to date growth. It’s time to get excited!