The annual Miles of Possibility Route 66 Conference is centered on the history, tourism, preservation, and the economic development of Route 66 communities. As such it is unique. It is also a direct link to annual conventions developed by the U.S. Highway 66 Association in the 1930s.
The slate of speakers at the 8th annual conference held in Bloomington – Normal, Illinois highlighted the diversity of the event. Scott Dahl, Director of the Springfield (Illinois) Convention & Visitors Bureau. Dahl spoke about the forthcoming Route 66 centennial, associated opportunities for marketing and economic development, and projects that the City of Springfield are developing to capitalize on the anniversary.
Marian Pavel of Touch Media, the company that has developed the innovative Route 66 Navigation app and Mother Road Route 66 Passport also spoke about the Route 66 centennial. He also introduced an AI Route 66 educational and travel planning project that is being developed with assistance from Jim Hinckley, author, tourism development consultant and creator of the Jim Hinckley’s America travel network. The Touch Media spokesman also announced that there are plans for providing tour companies with customized verisons of the navigation app.
A presentation about development of the Henney Kilowatt, an innovative electric vehicle produced in Bloomington, Illinois in 1959 was given by Bill Kemp of the McLean County Museum of History. This program was particularly relevant as one of these rare vehicles is a part of the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation collection on display in Kingman that is the core for an EV museum currently under development. Introductions were facilitated between Kemp and foundation directors for the sharing of information, photos and other materials pertaining to the Henney Kilowatt.
Also speaking at the conference was Evan Stern, creator of the acclaimed Vanishing Postcards podcast. Dr. T. Lindsay Baker, author of Eating Up Route 66: Foodways on America’s Mother Road spoke about the evolution of the roadside dining experience. Hinckley, a keynote speaker, spoke about the dawning of the great American road trip amd the infancy of the American auto industry.
The conference is also a tremendous networking opportunity for the building of cooperative partnerships. Attending the 2023 conference were representatives from the New Mexico, Canadian, and Oklahoma Route 66 associations, tour company owners, tourism officials, and acclaimed podcasters, authors and journalists.
It is also a promotional opportunity for Route 66 communities and businesses. Tables are provided for the display and distribution of materials such as visitors guides, rack cards, and event flyers. A raffle at the end of the conference provides additional marketing opportunities.
The City of Kingman provided a basket of area products such as vanilla extract from Desert Diamond Distillery and promotional materials for the raffle. Scoops on Route 66, a sponsor of Jim Hinckley’s trip to the conference, provided colorful rack cards for the promotional table. A sample kiosk allowed attendees to experience the narrated, self guided Kingman historic district walking tour developed by Kingman Main Street.
The City of Edwardsville, Illinois will be hosting the 2024 Miles of Possibility Route 66 Conference. And plans are being developed in Springfield, Illinois for the hosting of the 2026 conference as a component of the city’s Route 66 centennial events.