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National News / Entertainment

Thursday, 16 August, 2012 2:46 PM

2012 Route 66 International Festival rolls off into the sunset


The National Miss Route 66 Pageant took place on Saturday, Aug. 11 in Victorville, Calif.


by Jason Rzucidlo



VICTORVILLE, Calif. -- The 2012 Route 66 International Festival wrapped up on Sunday at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds in Victorville, Calif. Each year, the Route 66 International Festival takes place in one of the eight states where "The Mother Road" runs through. This was the first time it was held in southern California. Highlights included the vintage car show, National Miss Route 66 Pageant, Taste of 66 Food Truck and Wine Festival, Live Musical Entertainment, a Military Display & Veterans Tribute, the Ross Bonnie Golf Tournament and much more.

"Every year, I go from Santa Monica to Chicago doing all sorts of car shows to openings to pageants," said National Route 66 Ambassador Terry Lea Smith. "I do on average 10 to 20 events per year. Last year, the international festival was in Amarillo. I've lived in the high desert for 30 years and when they said they were bringing it here, I was over the top, just so excited. Eighty-five percent of Route 66 is still drivable. I drive all the time, I don't fly anywhere that I go. There is just little bits that you'll have to get on Interstate 40 and then get back on Route 66. They're trying to make it to the bottom of the Cajon Pass to finish going all the way through the Foothill Boulevard. There is still little two-lane highways, mom and pop little towns. The people are like they've known you for 100 years."

A little over 5,000 people visited this year's festival, according to The Victorville Daily Press. That is down from the 30,000 attendees that organizers and nearby business owners were hoping for. It may have been due to the weather because temperatures were over 100 degrees throughout the entire weekend.

"I'm really enjoying it," said Joe Stevenson from Hesperia, Calif. "It's a great experience for my kids. I've lived here for my whole life so I love old cars. This is the spot to be. I think it's the whole experience. You can't say you just came here for the cars or the food or the entertainment. The price was five bucks and my kids were free. It's perfect. I have to drive a car that seats eight, I have a Jeep Commander. It's just a great time. We're going to look at some fancy cars right now."

More than 200 classic cars were on display at the vintage car show on Saturday. However, it was cut short due to the threat of strong storms and the sirens from the National Weather Service on the radio.

"I've had it for about 10 years," said Jim Kennell, who showed off his 1964 Ford Fairlane 500. "I've slowly been getting it to where I got it in the condition it's in. No, I didn't build the car myself. I do what I can do, but I have good friends who helped me. I've had the transmission gone through. I just put a brand new motor in it. It has a 289 with a four barrel and a small cam. It's putting out about 320 horsepower. It's not a screamer--it don't light up the tires. It's just a nice driver. We touched up the paint. My son and I polished it all out and rubbed it out. This is my first time showing it here. I do the big Route 66 fest in San Bernardino. There's three or four other ones that I'll be in. I don't have the record right now."

On Saturday, Don Seymour entertained audiences with his Tribute to Johnny Cash. Classic pop/rock band The Working Poets, Will Glover (a tribute to Chuck Berry) and David Presley's Elvis Experience also performed on Saturday. Classic rock bands No Way Out and Heat entertained visitors on Friday.

"My sister and I have the shop called 4 Women on the Route," said Melba Rigg of Galena, Kan. "We own the inspiration for Tow Mater, which his name is Tow Tater. We found him in 2006 parked up against a wall with a tree growing up through its boom. We were asked by the city of Galena to get rid of him, he was an eyesore. So we did, we sold him to a local farmer. But when we did that, Michael Wallis, who is the voice of The Sheriff car in the movie and the editor of Route 66: The Mother Road, which we all call the bible, told us to get him back. 'He was Tow Mater.' We said, 'Tow who?' We bought the building in 2006, hadn't seen the movie yet. We went and watched the movie, laughed ourselves silly and bought the truck back. We've been going strong ever since."

The "Taste of 66" food and wine festival featured over 60 food trucks from all over southern California.

"I was here this morning and I enjoyed it very well when all of the cars were here," said Theodore Payne, an attendee from Victorville, Calif. "I was very impressed so I went home and got the wife and brought her back so she could have some delicious gourmet food and see some cars and what not. It's been an excellent festival, I've enjoyed myself very well. The cars were excellent, a kind of nice, wide selection, more than I've anticipated. I don't want to tell you I wasn't distracted by the beauty pageant for just a moment. The food is off the hook. We're specialists in food, so we're good on that. We'll come again."

A new group of 12 queens were crowned during the National Miss Route 66 Pageant. This year's winners include Monica Burrola for the classic division, Cassidy Garrard for the junior talent division, Kristina Lewis for the talent division and Terry Kafides as the ambassador. Other new queens include Makenzie Vuiller (baby), Olivia Roberts (petite), Keira Villafana (tiny), Nadya Crain (junior), Hailey Lorance (pre-teen), Riley Hunsucker (junior teen), Kelly Smith (teen), Sonali Mohanty (Miss), Wendy Lorance (Mrs.) and Kara Knudsen (Ms.).

"I've had this for about seven years," said Alan Ricard, who displayed his 1953 Chevrolet 210 Club Coupe. "I bought this from a gentleman in Williams, Ariz. He had it for a very long time and owned a restaurant called Twisters on Route 66. It took me about five years to talk him out of this car, but he finally gave in. I've had it and restored it. I've rebuilt the engine, transmission, all upholstery, tires, shocks, everything. It's a 235 with a six-cylinder and a power glide. B.K. Automotive did the work for me. He's a well known mechanic here in the high desert. This is the first time we've had the festival in the high desert. We're very fortunate here. We're doing a mural on the Route 66 museum. It's almost finished. We're having this up and finished next month."

The new queens were introducing during a dinner on Saturday evening. The banquet, titled "Hooray for Hollywood," was held inside the Green Tree Inn hotel. Michael Wallis, a Pulitzer prize nominee and the voice of The Sheriff in the "Cars" movies, delivered the State of the Road address.

"It's really great, it's really humid out here, but other than that, it's great," said Morgan Kennedy, an attendee from Apple Valley, Calif. "The cars are old, but they're pretty cool. The weapons and everything, I like it in there. We haven't tried the food yet. I want to get a funnel cake or pretzels. I like David Presley, we listen to one of his shows every year. We come out here every year."

Official festival t-shirts and hats were sold by 66 to Cali, a gift shop located on the western terminus of Route 66 in Santa Monica, Calif. All of its souvenirs are manufactured in the U.S.A. Dan Rice, who is originally from Novi, Mich., owns and operates the gift shop.

"I like the music, it's pretty nice," said Erin Brunson, another attendee from Apple Valley, Calif. "Yeah, I like old cars. They're pretty good. The tanks are pretty cool. I've seen some of them before. They're pretty big. We were told the food truck were way too expensive. I like the Elvis song 'Return to Sender.'"

Attention classic car owners: mark your calendars! The 23rd Annual Stater Bros. Route 66 Rendezvous is scheduled for Sept. 13 - 16, 2012 in downtown San Bernardino, Calif.

  • Get more details about the 2012 Route 66 International Festival at
  • For more information about the Stater Bros. Route 66 Rendozvous or to register your vehicle, visit
  • Check out the California Route 66 Museum at 16825 S. D St. in Victorville, Calif. Visit their website at

Related Story: Route 66 International Festival 2012: 'California Dreamin' Aug. 9 - 12 in Victorville




The vintage car show ended a little early because of the threat of strong thunderstorms.



Melba Rigg owns the Tow Tater truck, which was the inspiration for Tow Mater in the "Cars" movies.



Over 60 food trucks participated in the "Taste of 66" food truck and wine festival.



A military display and veterans tribute was also a large part of the weekend.



66 to Cali is a made in the U.S.A. gift shop located on the Santa Monica Pier.


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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.