Edwardsville’s Route 66 festival proved popular despite the heat

City Park was packed with crowds, vendors and pets on Saturday for Edwardsville’s annual Route 66 Festival.

Geoff Ladd, assistant manager of the Springfield-based Illinois Section of Route 66, said it was a great day.

“I’m really impressed with the turnout, the variety of vendors, the music, etc. “, did he declare. He and his trainee, Maria Scrito, spoke to viewers on the Mother Road.

The fountain in the northeast corner of the park was more like an oasis with an air temperature of 86 F and 55% humidity in the late afternoon. The Nudge Band played classic rock hits like Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets to Paradise” to visitors who enjoyed the music from the shady areas of the park.

Nearby, Emma DeLong of Troy and Emma Schleckte of Marine sold t-shirts, caps and more for Local618.

“He’s been busier this year than last year,” DeLong.

Two T-shirts, one navy blue with the Illinois crest on it and one black with the Rusty’s name on it, turned out to be the best sellers of the day.

“We really want to come back in 2023,” DeLong said.

Many inflatable rides were in the park to occupy the youngest, such as bouncy houses and obstacle courses. East Park was closed to traffic to give the variety of food trucks a place to park and serve their wares. Much of the west side of the library grounds became a petting zoo, which featured a calf, rabbits, and other farm animals.

Across East Vandalia Avenue, public works officials blocked off the North Kansas block between East Vandalia and Hillsboro Avenues and the Cassens Transport Company parking lot for owners to show off their vehicles classic and personalized. About 105 of them took part in the flagship event, a short car cruise around the city.

Before driving off, hoods popped up, trunk lids, tailgates and cargo areas were opened and all this attracted onlookers. There were Corvettes, Camaros, Firebirds and classic Mustangs. There were Tri-Fives (all 1955-1957 Chevrolets that weren’t Corvettes), modern Dodge Chargers and Challengers, 1964-1972 GM A-body cars (Chevelles, LeMans GTOs, Cutlass 442s and Skylark Gran Sports), which are usually included in the “muscle car” category and more. Jeeps, Ford Broncos and VW buses represented the truck and van side of the coin.

Larry Thomas of Troy decided a new tactic was needed.

“I wasn’t there last year, but in the past I’d brought my $40,000 hot rods and nobody cared. This year I brought my $4,000 toy, [a Smart Fortwo] and everyone notices it,” he joked.

Thomas has owned the small car since February. It had shrouded, a yellow roof and a shot of its sandal-clad feet at the base of the doors. Then he produced an almost matching little toy car to put on the side.

Quite possibly the oldest vehicle in the show and cruise was a 1919 Ford Model T Touring Sedan. Pat Wagner spent time in the backseat, enjoying some shade while her husband and son , Scott, were walking around watching the other vehicles. She said Scott bought them a few years ago. They live just outside of Edwardsville.

Shortly before 6:30 p.m., Edwardsville police and public works officials cleared the barricades and at the half-hour mark the car cruise began, starting with a seventh-generation yellow Chevrolet Corvette, the last generation with the engine in the front.

The cruise route started in northern Kansas, headed one block east on East Vandalia, then turned right on Buchanan Street. The line then traveled south to Center Grove. There they headed west to Plum/Main Street and back north to Vandalia before dispersing.

About Melanie Tweed

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