Route 66 news: 2016 Illinois events calendar and trip advice

Hello again, fellow roadies!  Most of you think the ‘official’ Route 66 related events begin every year in May.  Those of you who are hipper than that already started looking for things to do/see along the route in April.  Good for you!  But the truth is, you can travel this iconic American road trip at any time, during any season, and find things and people to see, places to visit, and yes, great things to eat (!) along the route all year long – even in Chicago in winter.  You might not be able to leave the top down on the convertible during the winter, but honestly:  how many of us these days travel the entire route in a classic ragtop, let alone without sunscreen?  Right:  most of us just see it and travel it however we can, even if that means taking a tour bus.

It isn’t the vehicles we use on historic Route 66 that matter; that’s the frosting.  It’s the road trip itself, what we experience, and whom we meet along the way – that’s the cake.  Our job here on the CuriousTraveler66 blog is to give you ideas and keep you informed of what’s along the way between the eastern terminus in downtown Chicago and the south end of Joliet (before you hit the sticks), sometimes even downstate, and what may have changed recently.  Therefore, the full 2016 events calendar (well, as complete as we can make it at this point in the year) is at the end of this post.  Bookmark this page for further reference, but know that we’ll be updating the calendar later on as we get additions, deletions and corrections.  Of course, all information is subject to change, so stay tuned right here in case something does change.

picnic 1 - classic Rt.66 rides - a bike, a 'Vette & a ragtop Mustang - blog (MRTraska)There definitely are changes happening along the route right now – like that Adams Street Bridge and viaduct repair work that’s been going on since January (which dictates a detour) and some new construction finally breaking ground soon on Ogden Avenue in the Illinois Medical District that will add hotel space to the IMD (thus providing potential alternative accommodations for those who want to find lodging on the route that is close to but not in downtown Chicago; it’s always nice to have options).  We’ll be updating you on those stories in future blog posts.  Also, there are many enjoyable events not directly related to the route but happening along it that you may well want to check out as long as you’re here anyway, like this year’s blues, gospel and jazz festivals, Lollapalooza, Riot Fest, Taste of Chicago, and the July 4th Grant Park concert and fireworks, so we’ll give you ideas about those, too.

But our first big bit of advice is:  If you’re going to travel Route 66, start properly where the eastern terminus has been since November 11, 1926 when the route first opened:  NO, not on Adams Street where that stupid, incorrect highway sign is, but at the Gateway to Route 66 – at Jackson Drive and Michigan Avenue, beside the South Garden of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Fountain of the Great Lakes.  Stand there and look west down Jackson Boulevard, and you will experience time travel: on all four corners and west on Jackson, you’ll see exactly what drivers saw on that cold November day in 1926.  It’s all still there for you to discover.  Most important:  Don’t be a sissy and start in the suburbs just because you’re afraid of a little downtown traffic.  That’s the doofus approach.  You want the real, authentic, complete Route 66 experience, right?  Then start at the beginning.

Jackson and Michigan looking west, Chicago (Google Maps street view) - blog

Looking toward Jackson Drive and Michigan Avenue, the Gateway to Route 66 and the route’s eastern terminus since 1926   (photo courtesy of Google Maps Street View)

Second:  Get to Chicago at least three days before you begin your road trip.  This isn’t just so you can adjust to the time difference or visit Navy Pier (Ugh! Total tourist trap!! And not even close to the route; just avoid it).  It’s so that you have an opportunity to learn about those locations along Jackson Boulevard and Adams Street that have been part of the route all these years.  Check out in advance the walking tour and building tour online calendar of the Chicago Architecture Foundation – located right there at the gateway, in the Railway Exchange Building – and learn about what stood along Route 66, who built it, and who occupied it over the years.  You’ll be learning about Route 66, perhaps indirectly in some cases but automatically – because the route’s path was chosen deliberately, as was Chicago for the eastern terminus.  It’s no accident that the route began in 1926 where it did, or that it took the path through the city and the rest of the state where it did.  The more you know about what and who was along the route over the years, the more you’ll understand why Route 66 was located where it was.  Remember, learning more Route 66 history is fun!  Besides, CAF has the best tours in the city and its docents are the most knowledgeable guides in town, as has been recognized repeatedly by a number of independent tourism sources like and TimeOut Chicago.  Architecture is a big deal in Chicago, so if you want to know about it, go to the source:  CAF.

Next, a word of warning about the weather.  It’s often been said that if you don’t like the weather in Chicago, just wait a minute (and it’ll change).  Well, so far this year, our area has lived up to that unpredictable reputation, big time.  After what was, for us, an unbelievably mild winter – waaaaaay not enough white stuff to satisfy the snow bunnies among us, darn it – we’ve had a highly variable spring.  Even though there were days in February that felt like late March and several days in a row in March and April that felt more like late June, most of April and this early bit of May so far have retreated into unseasonably cold, March-like weather, with daytime temperatures in the 40s and 50s (60 degrees F. is normal for May in Chicago).  We’ve also had plenty of spring rain here, though not deluges so far like those that have caused massive floods in states further south and west (the floods in Texas and Oklahoma, for example, were awful).

What all this means is that you should take the boy scout/girl scout approach when you get here and be prepared with layered clothing, cold-weather jackets, raincoats with removable liners and/or easily packable rain ponchos, and sturdy, collapsible golf-size umbrellas.  Maybe even Wellies or rain boots that you can throw into the trunk, if you’re driving.

And if you’re driving, make sure you and your car are well prepared:  give the car a complete check-up before leaving, and travel with a fully loaded first aid kit, a wilderness first aid handbook, and a personal survival kit with supplies for at least one extra person besides yourselves (which should include a compact survival handbook, Mylar survival blankets, plenty of drinking/cooking water and energy bars, Epi pens for allergic reactions, a hiking compass (a Silva compass will do nicely), waterproof matches, salt tablets for the desert, a high-tech water filtration mug or device plus iodine tablets to sterilize/kill whatever bugs in the local water your filtration system doesn’t catch, and a camper’s/survival version of a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool – one for each of you, at least).  You’ll also need an up-to-date multistate road atlas (from Rand McNally or American Map Co., for when your GPS in the car dies or goes bonkers and there’s no cell phone coverage; yeah, that can happen), a well-charged or new car battery, spare batteries and chargers for your phones and other electronic devices, all-weather tires, a sound spare tire that you had checked before you left, a few cans of Fix-a-Flat tire sealant, a portable air compressor that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter outlet, extra antifreeze and distilled water for the radiator, extra brake fluid, road flares and/or reflective shields (to use when you’re stuck on the side of the road, so that other drivers can see you there and not run over you), duct tape, a folding camp shovel and plastic jug of kitty litter (in case you get stuck in mud or late-season snow), and at least 100 feet of clothesline or reflective polypropylene rope (in case you have to pull something or someone out of the mud or floodwaters).

Personally, I’d also add a working satellite phone, a hiker’s freestanding GPS device, pouches of freeze-dried camper’s food, camping cookware with folding handles and utensils, and a folding grill that you can use over a campfire, just in case – but that’s the old girl scout in me talking.  Better you should have all that and not need it than not have it and suddenly require it.  Hope your vehicle has a big trunk.

Now, I can just hear some of you saying that you’ve made the trip without any of this stuff and never needed it.  Lucky you!  But what would you do if your car broke down in the desert miles away from an interstate exit or town, or if you got stuck alone in an area with sudden flooding, terrible thunderstorms, rock falls or mudslides that closed the road, imminent tornadoes, or a freak blizzard?  Would you know what to do or where to seek shelter?  No??  My point exactly.  Global warming is causing big, unpredictable shifts in weather these days.  Better to be safe than sorry, even if the only protection you carry is a sat-phone with extra batteries plus a charger and an independent GPS unit.  All of the above is what I’d have for any road trip longer than a day.  But that’s me; you may prefer to gamble on encountering no adverse conditions.  Good luck with that.

Zeppole di San Giuseppe at Ferrara Original Bakery, Chicago  (Photo copyright 2013 by M.R. Traska)

Zeppole di San Giuseppe for St. Joseph’s Day (March 19th) at Ferrara Original Bakery, Chicago (Photo copyright 2013 by M.R. Traska)

Now for the scheduled events …  Unless you were here in March, you’ve already missed our famous St. Patrick’s Day parades (there are two) and members of the plumbers’ union turning the Chicago River green – always fascinating to see orange powder rendering the grayish water a fluorescent shade of kelly – as well as the St. Joseph’s Day tables (abbondanza!) and those wonderful pastries called zeppole di San Giuseppe.  Yum!  You also missed the famed Chicago Auto Show in February.  And less than two weeks ago, Chicago hosted its second James Beard Awards weekend – the foundation folks liked it here so much last year that they came back this year, after holding the awards banquet in New York for 30 years – which you know meant all kinds of special menus around town all week long (see? Roadies who are foodies have every reason to be here in early spring!).  Even better, the awards themselves were presented at the lovely auditorium of Lyric Opera of Chicago at the Civic Opera House.  FYI, Chicago favorite Alinea won the 2016 best restaurant award.  Just saying:  if you’re going to be here anyway and want to splurge on something special, it’s really worth it to make reservations at Alinea (or any top restaurant) months in advance.  Word to the wise.

Here’s your Route 66 calendar of events.  Please note that all events, locations and dates are subject to change!  I’ll be enjoying lilac and cherry-blossom season in greater Chicago until Mother’s Day, or thereabouts.  Ciao for now, roadies, and see you soon!

Your Route 66 calendar girl,

Traska cartoon - Bryan Janky, Heritage CVB - blog


2016 Route 66 calendar for Illinois


April 25 – 1st Anniversary Celebration, Cruisin’ With Lincoln on 66 Visitors Center, noon to 4pm at the McLean County Museum of History, Bloomington.  For further information, visit


Wednesday nights: Paisan’s Pizza Cruise Night, 6226 W. Ogden Ave., Berwyn, IL

UNCONFIRMED: 1st and 3rd Tuesdays – Berwyn Cruise Night, 6-9pm; at 6909 Windsor Ave., near the METRA/Burlington commuter station in Berwyn, IL.  Street parking.

May 7-8 – 10th annual Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Tour, Edwardsville to Towanda, IL (south to north); this is usually the first big road-trip tour of the Route 66 season in Illinois.  Expect flea markets, garage sales, and other activities along the route.  For further details, visit

May 26 – Romeoville Cruise Night, 6-9pm, 55 Phelps Avenue, Romeoville, IL.  Time to start showing off those flashy cars and bikes!  For further details, visit

May 28 – “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” Car Show, Odell, IL; proceeds to benefit the American Cancer Society.  For more info, visit

May 29 – Bike The Drive event on Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, 5:30am–10:15am; yes, for almost five hours that morning, you and your fellow cyclists will be the only ones on The Drive! But it’s not free.  Registration fees start at under $47 for adults and $16 for children age 16 and younger, but they increase the closer you get to the date – so early registration really pays off.  For details or to register online, visit

Photo courtesy of John Lankford via ChooseChicago blog

Bike The Drive on Lake Shore Drive  (Photo by John Lankford via ChooseChicago)


Wednesday nights: Paisan’s Pizza Cruise Night, 6226 W. Ogden Ave., Berwyn, IL

UNCONFIRMED:  1st and 3rd Tuesdays – Berwyn Cruise Night, 6-9pm; at 6909 Windsor Ave., near the METRA/Burlington commuter station in Berwyn, IL.  Street parking.

June 3-4 – 31st annual Chicago Gospel Music Festival, Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park, Chicago.  Headliners this year include Hezekiah Walker, Shirley Caesar, Travis Green, and the Chicago Mass Choir.  For full schedule and other details, see

June 4 – Sunday morning, as part of the park district’s Summer Workout series in the parks, there will be Summer Workout with Gospel Music sessions 7-11am on the Great Lawn of Millennium Park.  For a full description of the sessions and instructors, visit

UNCONFIRMED:  June 4 – Annual Route 66 Cruise-in, McLean County Historical Museum, Bloomington-Normal, IL; no details yet.

UNCONFIRMED:  June 5 – Lidice Massacre Commemoration, organized by the Czechoslovak American Congress and the city of Crest Hill, IL; 11am in Lidice Park, about 1 mile west of Route 66/IL 53.  To get there from Theodore Street and Raynor Avenue, go 1 block north, then 1 block west on Prairie Avenue to Lidice Park.  Parking is available at the lot in St. Joseph Park on the SE corner of Raynor and Theodore in Joliet.

Crest Hill's Lidice monument today (Photo copyright 2015 by J.D. Kubal; all rights reserved)

Crest Hill’s Lidice monument today  (Photo copyright 2015 by J.D. Kubal; all rights reserved)

June 8 – 22nd annual Mother Road Ride Rally, an event for bikers and road trip/car enthusiasts starting at the La Quinta Inn in Willowbrook, IL and going all the way to Santa Monica, CA over a 12-day period; for details or to register, see

June 9 – 2nd Thursday of the month: Riverside Cruise Night, 6-9pm; 17 E. Burlington Ave., near the METRA/Burlington commuter station in downtown Riverside, IL.  Street parking.

June 10-11 – 19th annual Edwardsville Route 66 Festival and car show, Edwardsville, IL; more info at

June 10-12 – 33rd annual Chicago Blues Festival at the Petrillo Band Shell, Columbus Drive and Jackson Drive, Grant Park, Chicago.  One of this year’s headliners on Saturday night will be Irma Thomas, soul queen of New Orleans (yay!!!).  Other festival headliners include Li’l Ed & the Blues Imperials, Shemekia Copeland, Toronzo Cannon, and Wee Willie Walker.  For those who want to bicycle to the blues fest (that or public transit is highly recommended), there will be a bike valet service sponsored by Mountain Dew.  For details and a complete schedule of events, visit

June 11 – Route 66 Cruise-In, Atlanta, IL; cruise-in 4 to 8pm on Arch Street in downtown Atlanta.  For further information, contact Don and Cindy Kopack at 309-378-4391 or or visit the Facebook page at or

June 11-12 – 2nd annual Blue Carpet Tour, from Chatham to Collinsville; for more info, visit

June 12 – The Village of Burr Ridge & Corvette Mike Midwest present the 9th Annual Burr Ridge Car Show, 10am-2pm on the ‘main drag’ at Burr Ridge Village Center shopping mall, Burr Ridge Parkway at County Line Road. Attendance is free; classic, vintage and custom cars displayed.  Featured: a 90-min blues concert by The Blooz Brothers.  To register your vehicle, call Corvette Mike at 630-230-0441; $10 registration fee per vehicle.

June 12-14 – The 27th annual Route 66 Association of Illinois 26th Annual Motor Tour, “Alive and Kickin’ on Route 66” from Edwardsville to Towanda, will include the 2nd annual Blue Carpet Tour in southern Illinois and the annual Route 66 Hall of Fame dinner Saturday night in Carlinville.  For details, see

June 18 – Pontiac Cruise Night, 5-8pm, town square, Pontiac, IL; for details, call 815-822-8037 or visit

June 19 – Lyons Father’s Day Car, Truck and Bike Show, 9am to noon along old Route 66 at 4200 Lawndale Ave. in Lyons; there will be awards, trophies, plaques, entertainment, family activities and more.  For further details, visit

June 25 – 33rd annual World’s Largest Block Party, sponsored by Old St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Route 66 and co-sponsored by WKQX 101 FM; to be held this year at the UIC Festival Lot, 1145 S. Morgan St. near Roosevelt Road.  For 31 years, the party was held on the same block as Old St. Pat’s on Route 66; but because the crowds got too big, the move was necessary.  Tickets go on sale Monday, May 16 at 10am; for further information, contact or visit

Worlds largest block party posterJune 27 – Route 66 decommissioning anniversary:  U.S. Route 66 was officially decommissioned on this day in 1985; however, it was decommissioned years earlier in Illinois (during the early 1970s) once Interstate 55 was completed in the state.

June 30 – Last Thursday of the month: Romeoville Cruise Night, 6-9pm, 55 Phelps Avenue, Romeoville, IL.  For further details, visit


Wednesday nights: Paisan’s Pizza Cruise Night, 6226 W. Ogden Ave., Berwyn, IL

UNCONFIRMED: 1st and 3rd Tuesdays – Berwyn Cruise Night, 6-9pm; at 6909 Windsor Ave., near the METRA/Burlington commuter station in Berwyn, IL.  Street parking.

July 4 – Chicago’s annual Grant Park Fourth of July concert, followed by fireworks shot from Navy Pier; Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.  It’s a great picnic opportunity, but it’s also a mob scene, so don’t bring anything you’ll hate to carry home later.  The music starts at 6:30pm this year, so you’d better nail down your spot on the lawn by 5:30.  This year, the concert performers are the National Youth Choir Of Scotland and the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, not the Grant Park Orchestra.  You can read about that night’s program here:
Please note:  we strongly recommend that you take public transit to get there, because if you park anywhere downtown, it’ll take you at least an hour to get out of the Loop after the fireworks.  If you live south and insist on driving in, park near McCormick Place and take the speedy McCormick Place shuttle bus back downtown to Randolph Street (it avoids the main streets and Lake Shore Drive by scooting along the bus-only South Shore Line causeway).  If you live west or north, park near Union Station, then walk over the Jackson Boulevard Bridge to Wells Street, catch an Orange Line (Midway) L train to Washington and Wabash, and hike over to the park from there (on the way home, take a Brown Line (Ravenswood) train back to Wells and walk back to your car at Union Station).  Otherwise, it’ll take you forever to get home once the fun’s over.
PS – If all you want is to chill out and wait for the light show, there are three better places from which to see the fireworks (assuming you don’t live in one of the high-rises by the lake between Randolph and Oak Street):  1) from the point at North Avenue Beach (if you live north; park by the pavilion at North Avenue by 6:30pm to secure a spot in the lot and on the sand), 2) along the shore between Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium, where you also get the best view of the skyline (if you live south; park by 6pm on Solidarity Drive, in the planetarium lot by Northerly Island, or by Soldier Field, then immediately claim your spot on the lawn), or 3) from a boat on the lake (yours, a friend’s, or one of the tour boats that operate from Navy Pier – your choice).

July 6-10 – Taste of Chicago, Grant Park; the world’s largest food festival and the ultimate food event for out-of-towners.  If you’ve never been to it before, be forewarned:  it’s over the top; there’s nothing else like it in scope or size.  Chicagoans typically try out the Taste once when they’re college age or twentysomething, then avoid it thereafter, unless they have visiting friends or relatives who want to go – because it’s expensive, overcrowded, usually hot and sweaty, and has long lines for virtually everything, including the porta-johns, plus parking will be nigh impossible and even more expensive than usual.  The event itself is free, but of course the food isn’t, and you’ll have to get tickets for reserved seats at a few select events like the concerts.  See the full calendar at the city’s event website here:
The Taste is perfect for tourists who want to get a wide sampling of what Chicago’s restaurants have to offer.  Locals, however, know they can get much better value for their money by skipping the Taste and hitting the better restaurants themselves some other time (or even the same weekend, thus avoiding most of the tourists; if you consider yourself a traveler instead of a tourist – especially if you’re a foodie – you may want to follow suit).  After all, isn’t that why we have the Chicago Reader reviews, Chicago magazine, and TimeOut?
In comparison, Chicago’s many neighborhood food and music fests are much more reasonable in terms of crowds, cost and parking and often have more interesting food options.  On the other hand, the Taste can quite reasonably claim to be the largest food festival anywhere on Route 66 in all eight states and one of the four largest festivals on the route in general, the others being the Chicago Blues Fest, Lollapalooza and the Chicago Jazz Fest (see entries below).  That’s right:  they’re all in Chicago.  We know how to party BIG.  Eat your hearts out, folks (wait:  isn’t that the whole point of the Taste?  Oh, snap!  Don’t tell Weight Watchers).  BTW, Mariano’s Fresh Markets will host several In The Kitchen With Mariano’s chef demonstrations, too.

July 7 – Joliet Nitro Nite, 5-10pm along Chicago Street in downtown Joliet; this is the kick-off event for the weekend’s Route 66 NHRA Nationals.  Come and meet NHRA nitro-fuel dragster drivers while you enjoy hot food, live music, ice-cold beverages, vendor booths and more.  For details, call the Joliet City Center Partnership at 815-774-6067, contact, or visit

Joliet NitroNite-273x300July 7-10 – Route 66 Raceway hosts the Route 66 NHRA Nationals, a four-day, world-class drag racing event.  All events are at Route 66 Raceway at the far south end of Joliet.  For details, call 888-629-RACE (7223) or visit

July 10 – Celebrate the giant Brooks® Catsup Bottle water tower at the 18th Annual Brooks World’s Largest Catsup Bottle® Festival Birthday Party & Car Show, 10am – 5pm at Woodland Park, Collinsville, IL.  Confirmed Chicago-style hot dog fans may want to skip one event during which hot dogs are served smothered in – oh no! – Brooks Catsup, but otherwise it sounds fun.  For details and a complete schedule of events, visit

July 14 – 2nd Thursday of the month: Riverside Cruise Night, 6-9pm; 17 E. Burlington Ave., near the METRA/Burlington commuter station in downtown Riverside, IL.  Street parking.

July 16 – Pontiac Cruise Night, 5-8pm, town square, Pontiac, IL; for details, call 815-822-8037 or visit

UNCONFIRMED:  July 18 – Abe Lincoln Festival, McLean County Historical Museum, Bloomington-Normal, IL; for details, visit

July 24-25 – Eastland Disaster 101st Anniversary Commemoration; to visit the actual site of the disaster, go to the south bank of the Chicago River at LaSalle Street in downtown Chicago and look just east of the intersection near the railing to find the historical plaque (then look down at the river:  that’s the spot where the Eastland turned over).  The memorial ceremony will be at 11am on the 24th.  For details on the program, visit

July 25 – National Route 66 Day (maybe in Kingman, Arizona … but in Illinois??  Naaah).  It’s the first we’ve heard of it.  We would have thought November 11 would be the more logical date to celebrate Route 66.  Oh, well.  If you know about this happening in other states, please send me an e-mail with details or a link to; for more info on the Arizona affair, see

July 28 – Last Thursday of the month: Romeoville Cruise Night, 6-9pm, 55 Phelps Avenue, Romeoville, IL.  For further details, visit

July 28-31 – Lollapalooza celebrates 25 years in Grant Park, specifically the section between Jackson Drive and Balbo Drive.  Lolla’s usually a zoo, but it’s one of a kind, too – and you can’t beat the venue near the lake and Route 66.  Then again, this event is mostly for those still young enough (or immature enough) to think going deaf and getting drunk in public is cool.  Hours daily:  6am-11pm.  Do yourself a favor and take public transportation to get there.  For details and tickets, visit  The full music lineup is here.


Wednesday nights: Paisan’s Pizza Cruise Night, 6226 W. Ogden Ave., Berwyn, IL

UNCONFIRMED:  1st and 3rd Tuesdays – Berwyn Cruise Night, 6-9pm; at 6909 Windsor Ave., near the METRA/Burlington commuter station in Berwyn, IL.  Street parking.

August 4-7 – Romeofest and Cruise-In; the carnival and events will be located at Deer Crossing Park, 1050 W. Romeo Road, and Village Park, 900 W. Romeo Road, Romeoville, IL.  The classic car show will be from 9am to 5pm on the 7th.  For details, visit

August 5-7 – 2016 Chicago Hot Dog Fest, Clark Street at LaSalle Drive; presented by the Chicago History Museum, which is located on Clark just south of the festival site.  This is the fourth (?) annual wienerfest; as the Chicago dog is part of the city’s history, it’s only natural for the history museum to be involved.  The main sponsor (no surprise here) is Vienna Beef, of course, which got its start when two gents who had immigrated to Chicago from Vienna, Austria decided to present their favorite hand-held sausage at the 1893 Columbian Exposition – where it was an immediate hit.  No, the history museum isn’t on Route 66, but if you’re going to make excuses to see Navy Pier, which also isn’t anywhere near the route, you can find one for this, too – it’s less than a mile from the pier, and it’s a family-type event.  So there.  Admission is free, but you get a discount on food tickets if you buy them ahead of time online.  For details and to buy food tickets in advance, visit

2016-ChiHotDogFest - cropAugust 6 – Willowbrook Cruisin’ 66 Fest Car & Bike Show, starts 11am at Harvester Park, 15W400 Harvester Drive, Burr Ridge; sponsored by the Willowbrook/Burr Ridge Chamber of Commerce.  Festivities will include live music and other entertainment, food, and children’s activities in addition to the custom and classic cars and motorcycles on display.  Harvester Park is barely two blocks north of Route 66/Joliet Road/North Frontage Road and about four blocks northwest of Schustek Pond.  For details, contact the C of C at 630-654-0909.

August 11 – 2nd Thursday of the month: Riverside Cruise Night, 6-9pm; 17 E. Burlington Ave., near the METRA/Burlington commuter station in downtown Riverside, IL.  Street parking.

August 11-21 – Illinois State Fair at the state fairgrounds in Springfield, located right near historic Route 66.  For the full schedule and other details, visit

August 20-21 – Chicago Air and Water Show, North Avenue Beach; no admission fee.  For those who love air shows and stunt flying, the free annual Air & Water Show is like fireworks in the day time.  Besides the big music festivals, this is one of the most popular events of the year in Chicago.  Although the grandstand will be east of Lake Shore Drive at North Avenue Beach (about two miles north of Route 66), you’ll still be able to see those planes zipping by if you’re anywhere near the bike path east of the drive and across from Grant Park.  Reason:  those planes fly so fast that they often go right past the pier before pulling up and around.  You’ll get a better view, however, from Oak Street Beach, Olive Park, and the north side of Navy Pier than you will downtown.  The best view, though, will probably be from the condo/apartment buildings along the Inner Drive between North Avenue and Oak Street (having an air-conditioned view there is the trade-off for not being able to hear the announcers directly, but you can always follow the action on the radio).  For a close-up compromise location (those grandstands fill up EARLY!!), try south of the chess pavilion along Oak Street Beach … but get there at least two hours before the show starts, and DON’T expect to be able to park within half a mile of the grandstands (even the Lincoln Park parking lots will be full; take public transportation or walk there, dudes).  You have been warned.  Details are at

North Avenue Beach during the Chicago Air & Water Show  (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)

North Avenue Beach during the Chicago Air & Water Show  (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)

August 20 – Pontiac Cruise Night, 5-8pm, town square, Pontiac, IL; for details, call 815-822-8037 or visit

August 20 – 3rd annual Get Your 6.6 on Route 66 Walk/Run; not-for-profit CORE of McLean, IL will hold its yearly 6.6 K (4.1 mile) event, starting at 8:30am at Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup, 5257 Historic U.S. 66 in Funks Grove, IL.  All proceeds benefit local projects in the community of McLean, with an emphasis on restoring the exteriors of historic buildings on the village square.  Coinciding with the race will be a live mural painting event by the Walldogs, who will create a large mural celebrating the history and community of McLean and Route 66; the mural will be painted over four days (August 17-20) on the side of a historic brick building located on the village square.  For details on the run and mural event, call 309-874-2102 or visit or

August 21 – Annual Route 66 Association of Illinois Picnic, noon to 6pm at Sugar Grove Nature Center, 4532 N 725 East Road, McLean, IL.  Come on down, y’all!  No admission fee.  RSVP to Marty Blitstein by calling 708-444-1312 or email

August 25 – Last Thursday of the month: Romeoville Cruise Night, 6-9pm, 55 Phelps Avenue, Romeoville, IL.  For further details, visit

August 26-28 – Lincoln Balloon Festival, Lincoln, IL; fields and fields of hot-air balloons.  Wheeee!  Not as big an event as the balloonfest near Albuquerque, but big enough.  For further information, visit

August 29 – 26th annual Berwyn Route 66 Car Show, 10am-4pm on Ogden Avenue/Route 66 between Ridgeland Avenue and Oak Park Avenue, Berwyn, IL; this is the one many of us in these parts wait for!  But yes, it looks like the date has been permanently moved to late August from the second weekend in September (personally, I liked the later date for cooler weather; oh, well …).  Show car registration and parking is 7-10am.  Last year’s show featured more than 600 cars and 50,000 people in attendance.  The evening before the event, there’s also a pre-car-show pizza party at Paisan’s Pizzeria (a major sponsor), 6226 W. Ogden Ave. in Berwyn.  For details or to register your vehicle for the show, see the website at

Stacy Conn of the IL Route 66 Scenic Byway (L) and yours truly at the 2013  Berwyn Route 66 Car Show.  Photo copyright 2013 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved.

Stacy Conn of the IL Route 66 Scenic Byway (L) and yours truly at the 2013 Berwyn Route 66 Car Show.  Photo copyright 2013 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved.


Wednesday nights: Paisan’s Pizza Cruise Night, 6226 W. Ogden Ave., Berwyn, IL

UNCONFIRMED: 1st and 3rd Tuesdays – Berwyn Cruise Night, 6-9pm; at 6909 Windsor Ave., near the METRA/Burlington commuter station in Berwyn, IL.  Street parking.

September 1-4 – 38th annual Chicago Jazz Festival, the largest free jazz festival in the world (and it’s FREE!  Did we mention that??); Millennium Park/Grant Park, with Sept. 1 events at the Chicago Cultural Center across the street on Michigan Avenue.  Who doesn’t like jazz on Route 66?  For a full schedule, see this page; for other details, including special parking packages (you’ll want those if you’re driving, but it’s really better to park outside the Loop and/or use public transit), visit

Pritzker Pavilion 1 at dusk, Millenium Park, Grant Park (ChooseChicago)UNCONFIRMED:  September 3 – Hodgkins Quarry Days, Hodgkins, IL; it’s a local fest on the route.  No details yet, but keep checking the website at

UNCONFIRMED:  September 3 – Chicago Historic Route 66 Classic Car Show, on Ogden Avenue/Route 66 between Ridgeway Avenue and Springfield Avenue (east of Pulaski Road, about 3800S) in historic Lawndale, Chicago; no details yet.  For more information, contact Drew Goldsmith at: or see website at:

September 9-25 – World Music Festival Chicago; yet another music event, this one follows hard on the heels of the jazzfest and goes on for days.  No details yet, but for further info visit :

September 11 through November 4 – Route 66: The Mother Road Eastward Adventure Cycling Tour, an eight-week eastbound bicycle road trip that starts in Santa Monica, CA and ends in Chicago.  An identical tour began April 17 and will end here June 10.  Be forewarned:  this is an advanced-level tour, so think hard about what shape you’re in before trying it.  For details, visit

September 16-18 – Riot Fest and Carnival in Douglas Park, Chicago; a punk rock & indie music lover’s dream, this is the second year the fest will be in Douglas Park, which is technically in Lawndale (this is SOooo not what the black residents of North Lawndale or the Hispanic/Latino residents of South Lawndale/Little Village listen to; take it as a sign that the upwardly mobile hipsters from the medical district/UIC/Little Italy-Taylor Street area and beyond will be taking over the neighborhood one day soon and trying to gentrify it … but not quite yet).  Ogden Avenue bisects the park, and the fest will be in the south section.  Not many details yet, but keep checking their website at

September 17-18 – Railsplitting Festival celebrating (who else?) the young Abe Lincoln, Lincoln, IL; for details, visit

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September 23-25 – International Mother Road Festival and Car Show, Springfield, IL, probably the largest car show along Route 66 in the state; more than 1,000 classic, custom, souped-up and vintage cars on display, including the Monet of Cars collection, plus live music all weekend at the Hot Rod Stage. Friday night is the Route 66 City Nights Cruise, with a $5 donation to benefit Crime Stoppers. Hours: 6-10pm Friday, 11am-10pm Saturday, 11am-2pm Sunday. Free admission; convenient parking near the convention center. For details, see the fest’s Facebook page at: or visit

September 25 – Riverside Garage Car and Bike Show, Pine Street and East Avenue, Riverside, IL.  For details, visit


October 2-16 – The National Route 66 Motor Tour quite obnoxiously begins in Joliet, IL – cutting out the first 40 miles of historic Route 66 and skipping the eastern terminus in Chicago entirely – and ends in Santa Monica, CA.  Seriously:  you’re going to omit Chicago, which is half the reason Route 66 existed at all??  That makes about as much sense as ending the road trip in Pasadena or traveling the route west to east but starting in San Bernardino.  Given that, the organized road trip hardly deserves the label ‘national,’ yet the organizers persist anyway.  False advertising, we say.  However, if you still want to participate in this unwisely truncated travesty, seek further details at  We’ll skip it, thank you very much, in favor of our own more comprehensive road trip some other time.  So there.


November 11 – Route 66’s 90th birthday; the route – and the rest of the U.S. Route System – was born on November 11, 1926 when members of the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) formally approved the official route system map, which AASHO and the federal Bureau of Public Roads had been working on together via the Joint Board for nearly two years.  On that day, Route 66 opened for business in Chicago at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Jackson Boulevard – and Illinois was the only state among the eight states through which the route ran to have the route’s roadbed completely paved (all 400 miles throughout the state).  It took nearly 14 years to get the rest of the route paved in all eight states.  Hooray for the route, and bravo, Illinois!


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