Cars line St. Louis Street during the 2017 Birthplace of Route 66 Festival. Organizers announced Tuesday the 10th edition of the event will be Aug. 11-13 in Downtown Springfield. (Photo by Downtown Springfield Association)

Visitors from across the nation will be “Back on the Mother Road again” in Downtown Springfield at the 10th Birthplace of Route 66 Festival.

It’s the third try at the 10th event after Covid canceled the festival in 2020 and 2021, but the 2022 edition will be bigger than ever. This year’s Birthplace of Route 66 Festival is three days, Aug. 11-13, in Downtown Springfield. Organizers said back in March they were expecting 70-75,000 attendees.

“One of the goals behind this festival is to raise civic pride and build community ownership,” said Cora Scott, director of public information and civic engagement for the City of Springfield. “We want people to feel like this is their festival and that’s why we want it to be free and remain free.”

Yes, it’s completely free to come to the classic car and motorcycle show, which also includes live music on two stages, food and drink vendors from across the country, a kick-off concert and a parade.

Live music is the festival’s heartbeat

It roars to life with the Rockin’ the Route 66 Kickoff Concert and Street Party on Aug. 11. The opening act, at 6:30 p.m., is local band Static in the Attic. The group — which includes former Springfield City Manager Greg Burris, Missouri State University Provost Dr. Chris Craig and Jeff Lowry — play eclectic acoustic rock. The Emerald City Band headlines the show at 8 p.m., playing cover songs from the 1960s to today.

“I heard time and time again that Springfieldians really wanted to have a street party, dance party as we came out of the pandemic to celebrate our resilience and to kick off the festival,” Scott said. “So, fortunately, we have support from our state legislature who put a significant amount of money in the budget this year, which allowed us to extend the festival. We have recruited America’s best cover band, called Emerald City Band. They are very, very high-energy.”

Emerald City Band’s repertoire includes Motown, disco, R&B and more. 

There’s even more free live music scheduled throughout the weekend. Some 17 bands will play on two stages — on Park Central Square and in Motorcycle Village — including Machine Gun Symphony, Sixwire, The Rosy Hips, The Dirty Saints and more.

Sixwire may not be a familiar name, but some of the members of the group will be. The band’s lineup includes Steve Augeri (former lead singer of Journey), John Elefante (former lead singer of Kansas) and Derek St. Holmes (former guitarist and vocalist for Ted Nugent).

“There are a lot of bands out there that the membership has changed, but they still have the recognizable name,” Scott said. “Well, this is kind of a twist on that. You might not know the name Sixwire, but these are high-quality musicians that were originally members of these very famous bands. So the quality of the musicianship for that Sixwire concert is going to be amazing.”

Check out the classic car show

The Birthplace of Route 66 Festival started as a one-day car show in 2011. It stays true to those roots with a massive car and truck show on Route 66, with vendors along the festival footprint from Campbell Avenue to the Springfield Expo Center. Some of those vehicles will participate in the Motor Mile Parade Aug. 12 at 6 p.m.

“We’ve got about 600 cars already pre-registered, so we could have 700 classic cars you can come and view throughout those two days,” Scott said. “Motorcycle Village is bigger and better than ever. We’ve got a motorcycle show as well as a poker run that raises money for combat veterans. And we’re giving away another Mother Roadster. This year it’s a classically-rebuilt 1932 Ford Coupe, with proceeds to Shriner’s Hospital.”

Win free Andy’s for a year

There’s one more new concept for 2022. Andy’s Frozen Custard is giving away a year’s worth of Andy’s Frozen Custard treats and various prizes and gifts from Downtown Springfield merchants as part of the Andy’s Frozen Custard Downtown Passport competition. Drop by any Springfield-area Andy’s locations and scan the QR code on the festival poster with your phone to get started.

“Then if you visit six out of 15 participating downtown businesses then you’re automatically registered for a grand prize, which is a year’s worth of free Andy’s,” Scott said. “Hopefully, that will drive even more traffic into our downtown businesses, which is one of our goals, too. We want people to come downtown who have never come downtown.”

There’s plenty more to do listed on the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival website.

Open parking and closed roads

Wondering where you’ll park? You can also visit the festival website for more information on that.

“We’ve enhanced parking, so there’s a parking map online,” Scott said. “There are designated handicap parking lots, as well as parking pretty much surrounding the footprint, and we’ll have golf cart shuttles running to those parking areas. So accessibility is definitely enhanced.”

There will be some road closures related to the festival and the parade, though Scott said it should still be easy to access the festival or get around it.

“We don’t expect any kind of major traffic issues surrounding the festival, because you still have good east-west and north-south access to the city,” she said. “National stays open the entire time, as well as Campbell and Kansas. The festival is on the Motor Mile east and west, so Walnut and Trafficway stay open.”

Birthplace of Route 66 Festival

Thursday: Rocking’ the Route Concert & Street Party — Static in the Attic, 6:30 p.m.; Emerald City Band, 8 p.m.

Friday: Classic Car Show, noon; Live music starts at 12:30 p.m.; Birthplace of Route 66 Festival Parade, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Classic Car Show, 10 a.m.; Live music starts at 11 a.m.

Jeff Kessinger

Jeff Kessinger covered sports in southwest Missouri for the better part of 20 years, from young athletes to the pros. The Springfield native and Missouri State University alumnus is thrilled to be doing journalism in the Queen City, helping connect the community with important information. He and wife Jamie daily try to keep a tent on the circus that is a blended family of five kids and three cats. More by Jeff Kessinger