Route 66 Miles of Possibility Announces Speakers, Keynote, & Tours for 2024 Conference in Edwardsville, IL

Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway

The Ninth Annual Miles of Possibility Route 66 Conference will be held Thursday – Sunday, October 31 – November 3, in Edwardsville, Illinois, with the theme “Giants of Route 66.” The main conference activities will take place at the historic Wildey Theatre just off Route 66.

Joel Baker

The keynote speaker is Joel Baker, founder of American Giants and the nation’s leading authority of – and advocate for – the identification, preservation, and restoration of the giant fiberglass statues known as “muffler men” produced in the 1960s by International Fiberglass Company, once located in Venice, California. “Muffler men” got their name from their advertising use at automotive shops. Baker has established an American Giants Museum in Atlanta, Illinois.

The slate of speakers includes: Casey Claypool, Executive Director of Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway; Cory Jobe, President & CEO of Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau; Susan Croce Kelly, author of “Cyrus Avery: Father of Route 66;” Judy DeMoisey and Mike Gassman, preservationists who saved the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle; Debyjo Ericksen and Ron Romero, staff and founder of the Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66; Jim Hinckley, Route 66 author, historian, and tour guide; Bill Iseminger, career archaeologist at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site; Geoff Ladd, Co-Chair of Route 66 Monarch Flyway; Benjamin Lowder, expert on Buckminster Fuller and the Fuller Domes at Edwardsville and Carbondale; Rhys Martin, President of the Route 66 Association of Oklahoma; Mark Pierce, author of “When the Stars Came Out:  The Story of the Mississippi River Festival;” Cindy Reinhardt, Edwardsville historian, author, and tour guide; Joe Sonderman, St. Louis radio personality and Route 66 author and collector; William Thomas, Chair of the Road Ahead Partnership; and Dave Tucker, Illinois coal mining historian and founder of the Illinois Coal Museum at Gillespie.

Other activities will include a trolley tour of Edwardsville’s Route 66 and the historic cooperative village of Leclaire on Thursday, Oct. 31, and an outdoor tour of Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville on Sunday, Nov. 3, weather permitting. On Sunday, Madison County Historical Society’s annual “Dining in History” event will be held at the Crystal Garden in Edwardsville, beginning with a social hour at 12:30 pm, followed by dinner and a Route 66 presentation by Route 66 historians Joe Sonderman and Cheryl Eichar Jett.

Friday and Saturday evening entertainment and two special exhibits will be announced soon.

The 2024 conference is made possible by the City of Edwardsville and Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau. Additional presenters of past and present conferences include: Bloomington-Normal Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Heritage Corridor Destinations, Illinois Coal Museum at Gillespie, Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66, Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, McLean County Museum of History, Ryburn Place at Sprague’s Super Service, and Visit Springfield Tourism Bureau.

Registration for the conference sessions (Thursday-Saturday), the Edwardsville-Leclaire trolley tour (Thursday), and the MCHS Dining in History (Sunday) is now open at

For updates and fun facts, go to and route66_milesofpossibility on Instagram. Register now to secure your place in the 2024 version of the only annual, ongoing conference event dedicated to Route 66! For more information, visit, or contact Cheryl Eichar Jett by email at

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Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway