The Illinois Route 66 Blue Carpet Corridor is established!

Announcing the Illinois Route 66 Blue Carpet Corridor! And the theme, appropriate for our region's history between Springfield and the Mississippi River, is "Miners, Mobsters and the Mother Road!" The first annual Blue Carpet Corridor weekend is scheduled for the second weekend of June 2015. But you don't have to wait a whole year to experience events, activities, and great Route 66 destinations. Some communities, including Gillespie and Edwardsville, already have long-running festivals in June. And other towns along the Route 66 alignments are planning "preview" events for June 2014, so there will be lots to do along the Blue Carpet Corridor already this year on the weekend of Friday-Saturday-Sunday, June 13-14-15. More to come on all of that in a forthcoming post.

Close to a decade ago, the Red Carpet Corridor in the northern part of Illinois was begun. Well-known Route 66 preservationists/authors John and Lenore Weiss were firmly behind the effort, and the original idea was to divide the Mother Road in Illinois roughly into thirds. The northern third was Red, central Illinois including Springfield would be White, and south of Springfield would be Blue. The eighth annual Red Carpet Corridor event will be held this weekend, May 3-4, between Joliet and Towanda.
Inspired by the success of the Red Carpet Corridor, several of us Route 66- and tourism-oriented folks from Carlinville, Litchfield, and Edwardsville began in 2013 to talk about getting the Blue Carpet Corridor rolling. At various Route 66 events across Illinois and Missouri, we kept bumping into each other and saying, "Let's get the Blue Carpet Corridor going." Last fall, Stan Barker from Carlinville took the initiative and called a first meeting. Representatives from a half-dozen communities showed up and started a dialogue.

A final count of cities and towns that will make an official commitment of time and dollars to participate in the Blue Carpet Corridor is yet to come. An invitational letter is being mailed to mayors, city administrators, chamber of commerce directors, and tourism directors in communities south of Springfield down to the Mississippi River, on the various Route 66 alignments.

Meanwhile, our Blue Carpet Corridor Coalition is making great strides! We are working toward our 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. We have elected officers:  President Stan Barker (Carlinville), Vice-President Robbin Terry (Auburn), Secretary - Cheryl Eichar Jett (Edwardsville), and Treasurer Glenn Sheets (Staunton). We are in the process of reaching out to Route 66 fans everywhere to welcome you to our communities. We appreciate the advice and expertise coming from Bill Kelly and Stacy Conn of Illinois Scenic Byways.

The potential tourism and economic impact for the approximately two dozen communities between our capital city and our border with Missouri is both encouraging and exciting. The Blue Carpet Corridor not only aims to promote its annual event, but to market all-year-long visitation of the communities under its "umbrella." Our Illinois Governor Quinn just announced today that this is the "third consecutive year of record-breaking state-wide tourism numbers!"

The governor's press release went on to state, "For the third year in a row, Illinois has welcomed a record number of visitors, demonstrating that tourism is thriving in the Land of Lincoln," Governor Quinn said. "The tourism industry plays a vital role in driving the Illinois economy forward by supporting local communities and providing quality jobs across the state."

If you live in or near one of the Blue Carpet Corridor communities, including but not necessarily limited to Auburn, Virden, Carlinville, Staunton, Gillespie, Benld, Litchfield, Hamel, and Edwardsville, please contact your city officials and/or chamber of commerce and voice your support for the Blue Carpet Corridor! A phone call, an email, or a snail-mailed letter of support will help encourage city officials to participate in this exciting endeavor. 

See you on the Blue Carpet Corridor!


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