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Big things in little town: Shamrock, Texas

Do you know what happens in Texas?  BIG things!  Especially on Route 66!  It doesn’t matter if it’s a small town, like Shamrock, population: 2000, give or take.  That’s what we learned in July of 2018 during the Texas Welcomes the World Festival.

Shamrock, Texas

The festival was about Texas, Shamrock, and of course, Route 66; what’s not to love?  There was food, fun, festivities, friendships, and family.  Many people worked very hard to make this small town event a huge success.  I HAVE to thank a very special lady, Dora Meroney.   I know lots of folks made that event happen, but Dora deserves a medal!  If you don’t know Dora, stop by Texas Ivy Antiques on Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas and meet her.  I’m certain you’ll love her as much as the rest of us Route 66 Roadies do!

Richard and I with Dora Meroney

You may wonder, what was so special about the Texas Welcomes the World Festival?  Well, lots of things actually.  We spent our nights at the Route 66 Inn; it was very clean, roomy, comfortable, and quiet.  Outside, they had a gazebo of sorts, so every night, friends came over for fellowship and fun-we really enjoy our Route 66 family reunions!  One evening, I was walking along Route 66 taking photos and was approached by a gentleman who introduced himself as Tye.  He told me he sang and played guitar at Vern’s Steakhouse, adding he had painted many of the murals around town.  (Be sure to check out the murals all around Shamrock-they’re cool!)  I invited Tye to come hang out with us that evening.  Soon, he joined our reunion outside, even bringing his guitar!  (and beer)  He sang for us while playing his guitar-it was a pretty nice treat.

“Gazebo” outside the Route 66 Inn

 

 

Murals by TYE

When people think of Shamrock, Texas, they often think about the majestic U Drop Inn, with its glorious neon illuminating the evening sky.  I had been really looking forward to photographing it and apparently, so did everyone else.   The stunningly beautiful neon did not disappoint!  My Dad and I walked up there one evening to photograph it.  Our opportunity to photograph the U Drop Inn without someone getting in the photo was almost impossible.  I vowed to return during a future Route 66 adventure and photograph it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U Drop Inn

 

The days were hot and of course they would be: it was July in Texas.  During the day, other small businesses like mine set up our wares in a large community center (did I mention it was air conditioned?) located off Route 66.  Although I had tables set up, I wandered off a few times to meet people, look as the wares of others, and I even snuck outside to see a few of the cars participating in the car show.  I heard there were even long horns (cattle) nearby, but I didn’t get to see them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of the cool cars at the festival

Saturday night was a real treat when our beloved Route 66 Band, The Road Crew, performed at the community center.  What a GREAT time had by all!  I am 100% certain the band made several new fans that night.  This amazing festival ended Sunday morning.  We all met at the community center for a delicious catered breakfast.  Saying goodbye to our Route 66 family is always hard.  What should take 5 minutes usually ends up being 30 minutes.  But that’s ok, it’s really, “Until next time…”

The Road Crew

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Mom, Music, and More

You know when you really like a certain food, you beg your loved ones to eat it, convinced they’ll like it as much as you do?  For example, “Come on Richard, just try this sushi, it’s amazing…”  Sometimes they never even try it, so they don’t know what they’re missing.  Other times, it’s much easier to get them to try it: “Come on Richard, just try this new chocolate pie recipe…” and they’re hooked!

As you all already know, I REALLY love Route 66!  So I had been trying similar tactics (mentioned above) to get my parents interested in Route 66 for several years.  I knew if they had just a sample of that Route 66 pie, they both would be hooked.  Dad has been a holdout for the most part, however, almost 2 years ago I finally talked Mom into spending a weekend with me on Route 66.  I convinced her I would treat her to an all expense paid weekend vacation for her 71st birthday…destination: The Mural City, Cuba, Missouri on Route 66 for Cuba Fest.  It wasn’t an easy sell, but I knew she loved crafts, good music, and she loved me, so she couldn’t really say no.  (I guess she could have said no, but that wouldn’t have been a happy ending, huh?)  I told Mom we would be staying at the iconic and historical Wagon Wheel Motel, she would get to hear The Road Crew perform, and she would get to meet many of my incredible Route 66 friends.

Mom lives back on the farm in Mid-Missouri and I live in Springfield, Missouri.  We decided to meet at the Wagon Wheel and let our fun start there.  I have to say, I absolutely love the Wagon Wheel Motel!  Connie Echols bought the motel in 2009 when it was in very sad shape.  She poured her heart and soul into the motel and turned it into a charming ‘must stay’ destination.  (Richard and I had attended the 75th anniversary of the hotel in August of 2011, where everyone present at the celebration was allowed to see each of the beautiful rooms Connie had recently restored.)

Rock Cabins at The Wagon Wheel

Mom arrived at the Wagon Wheel Motel early Friday evening.  We settled our belongings into our cozy room, then headed outside to find my friend, Dean Kennedy.  The three of us walked around the motel property, so we could visit with the other arrivals, as well as photograph the classic cars that stopped by.

Mike Wallace’s Roadster (He built it!)

Mom really enjoyed meeting my friends and they welcomed her with open arms, as Route 66ers always do.  Connie had a nice area set up behind the office for everyone to gather ’round and listen to friend and Author, Jim Hinckley, give a presentation about Edsel Ford.  I’ve had the honor of listening to Jim give several presentations.  He is very knowledgeable about Route 66 and her history, as well as other important historical topics.  If you ever have the opportunity to meet Jim or hear him speak at an event, do not miss it!  He and his wife, Judy, are both very nice people and they have a huge love of Route 66.

LOVE that neon!

Mom and I awoke the next morning, grabbed Dean, then headed to the craft festival.  Of course, the crafts were nice, but my main enjoyment was visiting with our Route 66 friends, which included several trips to the Missouri Route 66 Association booth to visit with our great friends, Bob and Yvonne Gehl.  (Who doesn’t love Bob and Yvonne!?!)  But I managed to spend most of the day at our booth where I was supposed to have stayed put.  (Ok ,ok, maybe I stayed put 3/4’s of the day…maybe…)  I have to admit, I was happy with our booth location, because one of my favorite photographers was set up beside us.  David Schwartz, a Cleveland based photographer, is a great friend and inspiration; he brought his Dad on the trip with him, too, so we both were introducing a parent to our beloved Route.

We sure love these folks!  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get photos of everyone.

Luckily, I was at our booth when our friends, Woody Bomar, Joe Loesch, Don King Jr., and Jason Harmon from the band, The Road Crew, came to visit.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned them before; they are based in Nashville, Tennessee, but all the Route 66ers I know always look forward to seeing them perform on Route 66.  The guys have written their own great Route 66 songs, but they also play some of the great songs from the 50’s, 60’s, and even a couple from the 70’s.  When they played on the street that day for the festival goers to hear, I could see the familiar twinkle in Mom’s eyes when she’s happy.  It appeared she was enjoying her 71st birthday much more that I thought she would.

The Road Crew made several new fans that day!

The beautiful sunset as seen from The Belmont Winery

The Road Crew

Both the pizza and the wine were excellent!

Although we really did have a great evening, Mom and I were happy to return to our comfortable room at the Wagon Wheel and turn in for the night.  Somehow, her turning 71 made me tired!  (Maybe, in part, it was because I had to watch her do the twist.)

Mom with The Road Crew.

The next morning, Mom and I packed up to leave, sad our fun filled weekend was over.  Of course, I had to take “just a couple” more photos of the Wagon Wheel before leaving.  Looking around, I had to remind myself, when we stop along Route 66, especially when we’re with our friends, it’s not ‘goodbye,’ it’s really, ‘until I see you again.’

The Wagon Wheel Motel Office and Gift Shop.

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Birthplace of Route 66 Festival

Join your fellow Route 66 -ers in downtown Springfield, MO from August 12-14, 2016 during the sixth annual Birthplace of Route 66 Festival! This year’s festival is sure to be the biggest one yet! Events include a car and motorcycle show, music–including two concerts, a parade and a 6.6 mile run.

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Fried Onion Burger Day Festival

Love burgers, beer, and Route 66? Then this festival is for you! The annual Burger Day Festival in Downtown El Reno, Oklahoma began in the 1980s as a tribute to the area’s fried onion hamburger which was popularized starting in the early 1900’s. The festival kicks off with the Bun Run and is followed by entertainment, music, games, rides, an antique car show, merchants, and food from 10:00AM to 5:00PM. And ….you won’t want to miss witnessing the cooking of the world’s largest fried onion hamburger! It weighs in at over 850lbs! Learn more about El Reno’s Annual Fried Onion Burger Day by clicking here.

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