Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Project Funds 2023 Announcement

Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway

In February of 2023, the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway announced the latest round of the Byway Project Funds program to provide financial assistance to Byway members. Byway Project Funds are to support events, marketing and advertising efforts, and projects that help preserve the heritage of Illinois Route 66 and promote travel to Illinois Route 66 communities and sites. Byway Project Funds cannot be used for general operating or construction expenses. Byway Project Funds range from $500-$1000 and up to ten members may receive the funds.

Over the past couple of months, the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway received many exceptional applications. One of the projects is not ready to be announced to the public and will be revealed later. We are announcing $6,000 to the following businesses:

Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor – $1,000
Classification: Marketing

The Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor held its 15th Annual Festival in May of 2022 and have begun preparations for the 16th Annual Red Carpet Corridor Festival in 2023! The 12 communities along these 80 miles of Illinois Route 66 have worked hard to establish this linear festival. For most of these communities, it has become the unofficial kickoff to road trip season. The intent of the festival is to give travelers a taste of each Route 66 community and encourage them to return when they have more time. Visitors are enticed to stop in each of the 12 communities by having a “giveaway” at each town. Giveaways are different every year but are always related both to the individual community and Illinois Route 66.

Funding for the festival has typically come only from the participating communities, with the majority going to the production of the annual giveaway and the printing of the annual event specific brochure and the leftover monies going to an ad buy. With a very limited budget for more widespread advertising or marketing, the leadership committee has tried to think of creative ways to help promote the festival. As a result, it was decided rack cards that could be distributed throughout the year at various locations around the state would be an effective tool. 20,000 rack cards will be produced and distributed to various Visitors Centers, DMOs, and TICs. We will design the rack card to have a general description of the festival that will stay relevant enough that it can be distributed year after year, as opposed to our annual brochure which is very festival specific and is out of date once the festival has ended. These rack cards will help the festival reach a wider audience of participants, encourage more regional travel on Illinois Route 66, and increase awareness of the festival and the communities involved year-round.

Best Western Plus Bloomington East Hotel – $1,000
Classification: Beautification

Whether you’re traveling with the family or exploring Illinois on your own, you’ll find a wealth of things to do around Chicago, Springfield, and other cities around Illinois. Illinois has become a popular destination for long weekend getaways and extended stay trips that take you to Lake Michigan and unique attractions in the southern part of the state.

From outdoor adventures to indoor attractions, enjoy a wealth of fun and interesting activities around Illinois. Venture beyond Chicago to explore some of the Midwest’s roadside attractions, historic sites for a real taste of the Land of Lincoln.

Best Western in Illinois provides clean and comfortable rooms to Route 66 travelers. This project is specific to the Best Western Plus Bloomington East Hotel. Funds will enhance the landscape at the entrance and install more EV stations. This will beautify the property and provide more services to the travelers.

Springfield Lucky Horseshoes / Robin Roberts Stadium – $1,000
Classification: Beautification

Robin Roberts Stadium, formerly known as Reservoir Park and Lanphier, has been the home of baseball in Springfield since 1925. The Stadium has hosted many historic franchises, Senators, Red Birds, Cardinals, Capitals and most recently, the Springfield Lucky Horseshoes. The stadium seats over 5k people.
The funds will go towards the beautification of the newly created beer garden within the stadium area. Since the team was rebranded in February 2022, we have wanted to make as many improvements and offerings to our fans as possible. We sell several local craft beers, which our fans love. And we have started to create a space to socialize. We had a dilapidated shed removed and the fence extended. We added high top tables, built by a local Springfield carpenter. The space needs some landscaping, seating and a bar before our fans can thoroughly enjoy.

Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66 – $1,000
Classification: Marketing

The Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, is committed to preserving the rich history and contributions of musicians, performers and industry leaders who have impacted the music world and embodied the creative spirit of Illinois. We strive to inform, engage, and inspire our visitors through exhibits and programs that draw upon a diversity of cultures, history, and musical influence.

The Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66 is dedicated to supporting local musicians, performers, and others in the music industry and performing arts in the form of scholarships and donations. The Museum also has strong potential to provide the City of Joliet with the opportunity to benefit from strong revenue generation. The Museum will provide positive economic impact resulting from increased tourism dollars spent in the region, funding from corporate sponsorship, donor contributions, advertising opportunities, and new tourism partnerships. It is our intention to inform and entertain guests as they explore 15,000 square feet of space within the Museum to learn about music history through exhibits that are immersive and interactive. We have put together an exciting music program providing a space to explore and learn from the masters who will lend their expertise to each program to inspire a new generation of creators and performers. The museum will offer hands on access to instruments and other tools of the trade with opportunities to attend workshops and special sessions with guest professionals.

The Byway project funds will be used to design, produce and distribute 35,000 rack cards to Illinois CVBs, Tl Cs and DMOs. The distribution of the 35,000 rack cards will bring awareness of this new Illinois tourist destination throughout the state which will further encourage Illinois travel by Illinoisans and recipients of the CVBs, TICs, and DMOs efforts. Not only will the distribution of these rack cards by the above-mentioned organizations bring awareness to the Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66 but also while visiting the museum how the Mother Road played a part in the evolution of Illinois music.

Atlanta Public Library District – Palms Grill, Clock Tower, and Museum – $1,000
Classification: Awning restoration / Beautification

First organized as an entity of city government in the mid-late 1800s, the Atlanta Library was housed in several different locations before construction began on its new building in 1907. The library building was fully funded by donations from Atlanta’s citizens and quickly became a focal point in the community, of which it still is today.

The Atlanta Public Library now owns the Downey Building which houses the Palms Grill Cafe, the Atlanta Museum, and the Route 66 Arcade Museum; as well as a crafting space for programming, and a ballroom space that is available to rent for parties and other gatherings.

In 1973, the library helped begin the Atlanta Museum to preserve Atlanta’s history. Originally housed in the basement of the Library, the Museum moved to the Downey building in 2009. This addition gave the Museum the opportunity to expand its collection department and showcase more exhibits. Today, visitors can learn about the history of Atlanta’s one room schoolhouses and the Atlanta High School, Abraham Lincoln’s time in Atlanta, and several businesses and events that, while they are no longer here, had a lasting impact on the community.

Next door to the Atlanta Museum is the Palms Grill Cafe. The Palms Grill Cafe is one of the Mother Road’s premier Route 66 attractions. Originally opened in 1934, “the Grill” served home-cooked meals, bingo games, and weekly dances in its backroom. The Grill closed in the late 1960s.

After being restored to its circa 1935 look, the Palms Grill Cafe reopened on April 1, 2009, and again began serving its blue-plate specials to Route 66 travelers and visitors. Bus tours, senior groups, and individuals young & old from across the country and globe, have all been welcomed to the Palms Grill Cafe over the past several years. After closing in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Palms Grill Cafe reopened its doors in June of 2022-this time as a bakery, Missy’s Sweet Shoppe.

The Palms Grill Cafe’s famous neon sign and green and white striped awnings have been a welcoming sight to Route 66 tourists and locals alike throughout the years. While it has been operating under a new tenant and not quite the way history remembers it, The Grill – now a bakery, Missy’s Sweet Shoppe, still desires to be a welcoming stop along the United States’ Mother Road, Route 66. With the purchase of new awnings, the Atlanta Public Library District hopes to provide a refreshed, but nostalgic, appearance to the Palms Grill Cafe once again.

City of Atlanta Tourism – $1,000
Classification: Mural restoration

Inside Route 66 Park, on the corner of Arch and Race Street, right on the 1924 Route 66 alignment, memories from Atlanta’s past come to life. There is the iconic bubbler fountain, former Atlanta Fair ticket booth, Knights of Pythias marker, and more mementos from Atlanta’s past. Route 66 is a major piece of Atlanta’s past, present, and future. Showcasing the importance of Route 66 is a 20 ft long mural on aluminum substrate displayed on a massive wooden frame. This is the centerpiece of Route 66 Park. The mural on display is 20 years old and has greatly faded due to the sun and its location in the park. Even faded, it is still the second most photographed spot in Atlanta (following the Bunyon Giant). The mural depicts Atlanta- corn, farm, car, Route 66- while highlighting its geographic location midway from Chicago to St. Louis.

Funds from the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway award will be used to create a new mural to replace the faded one. Illinois State University’s Design Streak Studio designed new graphics for the City of Atlanta, Tourism to use last Fall. We will be replacing the current mural, faded and outdated design wise, with one designed by ISU. Due to the sun fading issue, we will be wrapping the aluminum substrate with the design. The Great Display Company in Bloomington will do the sign wrap. Their wraps last 10 years and are UV coated to protect from sun damage. This will provide a nice photo opportunity for tourists. Through the interactive signage on the African American experience in Atlanta, we will attract more tourists to Atlanta and increase the time and increased spending in our community.

“Once again, we are excited to announce that the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway will be awarding $6,000 in Byway Project Funds to members. There are many benefits to being a member of the Byway, and the Byway Project Funds is one of them. Byway Project Funds gives members the opportunity to receive funding for an upcoming project or event; one of the most important goals of the Byway is to be able to assist our members financially. As our membership program continues to grow, so does the amount of funds we are able to award our members” said Casey Claypool, Executive Director.

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Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway