An international festival celebrating the Mother Road will take place this week, mostly in Joplin, but the kickoff event could bring hundreds of classic cars to Carthage.

An international festival celebrating the Mother Road will take place this week, mostly in Joplin, but the kickoff event could bring hundreds of classic cars to Carthage.

The 2013 International Route 66 Festival kicks off on Thursday with a cruise night that starts at 5:30 p.m. at Joplin City Hall and travels on the old road through Webb City and Carterville, then passes by the Boots Motel and around the Carthage Square before heading out Oak Street to the Route 66 Drive In.

The Drive In will host a sold-out special showing of the movie Cars, however Carthage Convention and Visitors Bureau said those cruise night participants who aren't going to the movie might park on the square for what she calls a “spontaneous car show on the Carthage Square.”

“I was contacted by the Cruise night organizers about organizing a car show last week and it wasn't possible to get anything official put together so quickly,” Douglas said. “However, several businesses on the Square will be open late on Thursday and the cruise night participants are certainly welcome to park on the Square. They just have to follow normal traffic rules.”

Established as the annual gathering for Route 66 enthusiasts to celebrate the heritage of the Mother Road, the weekend offers many activities and events to enjoy starting Thursday and running through Saturday.

The Festival bring together “Roadies,” as they are affectionately known, from around the world to share their love and passion for the historic route which dates back to 1926.

The Joplin event marks the first time the International Festival has been held in Missouri.

Organizers have been planning the event for several months.
“Our plan is to make each day a different experience for our guests,” said Patrick Tuttle, Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, “while at the same time showcasing those sites that are dedicated to the spirit of Route 66.”

Friday night’s activities take place on Main Street, in Galena, Kan. Vendors, crafters, a concert, car show (featuring a six-wheeled movie star), tours of the haunted bordello, and family and children activities and create a great experience for the evening.

During the Festival, a Main Street Marketplace, located in downtown Joplin, will be a central location for Route 66 enthusiasts offering booths showcasing treats, authors, artists, collectors and crafters. The marketplace will have indoor and outdoor vending on both Friday and Saturday of the Festival.

One booth at the Marketplace will represent the Jefferson Highway Association, a group promoting the “Pine-to-Palm Route,” which predated Route 66 and roughly paralleled the U.S. Highway 71 corridor of the early 20th century through Carthage, Webb City and Joplin.

As Roadies are encouraged to tour the tri-state corridor between Carthage and Miami, Okla., local stores, museums, diners and attractions will have their welcome mats out and doors open to all.

An International Festival Passport Book will be available to direct guests to the more popular Route 66 sites of the tri-state region including Red Oak II in Carthage, the Carousel Park and Mineral Museum in Joplin, Eisler Brothers and the Baxter Springs Visitor Center in Kansas, and the Historic Coleman Theater in Oklahoma.

Roadies who collect a significant number of stamps in their Passport Book can present their results at a booth in the Main Street Marketplace to be eligible to enter into a drawing for an amazing prize package of Route 66 collectibles.
Saturday’s events are set on Main Street in downtown Joplin. Wheels of the Road will offer a great opportunity to view more than 100 cars in their Hot Rod Run car show. The show also features a “best audio system” competition. Stages at both ends of Main Street will have live entertainment from late afternoon into the evening.  

The International Festival concludes Saturday evening with a concert headlined by the internationally acclaimed rock group The Grass Roots.

Since 1965, The Grass Roots have charted 29 singles; 13 of which went gold followed by two gold albums and one platinum album. In the entire history of Rock n’ Roll, only nine bands (including The Beatles) have charted more hits on Billboard’s Hot 100 than The Grass Roots.

Additional performers during the International Festival include: The Detectives, The Road Crew-America’s Route 66 Band, Walrus and City Limits.
For more details about the Festival, go to or contact the Joplin CVB at 417-625-4789.