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Route 66 Heritage set for July 29-30 in Miami, OK

Route 66 Heritage set for July 29-30 in Miami, OK

Fuel for the city’s economic engine. That’s how Miami City Manager Bo Reese describes the impact of the inaugural Route 66 Heritage Festival.

Now in its second year, the event brings thousands of residents and guests into downtown Miami for a two-day festival filled with vendors, games, a Kansas City Barbeque Society competition and, of course, an assortment of free concerts.

This year’s festival is slated for Friday, July 29, and Saturday, July 30. Headliners include Kyle Park on Friday and Laine Hardy on Saturday.

Other bands lined up to attend include Backwood Country, Tuesday’s Gone and LEVEE Town on Friday, and The Webster’s, Abbie Thomas Band and Braden Jamison on Saturday.

Reese said the revenue generated by the 2021 event benefited businesses throughout the community as people not only attended concerts, but bought food, shopped in area stores and booked rooms in local hotels.

The festival not only provides a fun activity for locals to attend, but it also allows visitors to see an active, thriving community, explained Reese. This can lead to new people wanting to work and live in Miami.

“This not only celebrates our musical history, but also our cultural heritage,” Reese said. “It increases our intercultural understanding, as we work with our local tribes.”

City leaders provided $50,000 upfront to help establish the initial event. Funding was returned to city coffers thanks to sponsorships by local businesses and entities.

“We see this as a positive return on our investment,” Reese said, “with tangible benefits and intangible benefits.”

Reese said, since last year’s festival, he’s talked with numerous individuals and businesses considering relocating to Miami.

“Sometimes the return in a ways down the road,” Reese said. “Sometimes it just means creating a vibrant community that spurs on economic development for years to come. We’re literally investing in our community.”

While the expansion on Main Street was in the works prior to the first festival, Reese said officials with Pete’s have indicated last year’s event confirmed the need for a larger presence in Miami. In terms of working with local tribal partners, Reese said the festival allows the tribes a platform to showcase their heritage.

“The feedback we got back (from the inaugural festival) was tremendous,” Reese said. “It’s amazing and surprising to see what we were able to do, and the level of attendance.” Other impacts from the festival extend beyond the two-day weekend in July. Reese said talks are taking place about building an event around Indigenous Peoples’ Day in October.

“Miami is on the cusp of some tremendous growth in terms of economic development, housing and opportunities for jobs and manufacturing,” Reese said. “There are so many positive things that work in our favor, in terms of our location on the turnpike. As each opportunity comes to fruition, it spurs the next, then the next.” Reese said he hopes the festival continues to be a source of pride for locals, including a sense of pride and belonging centering around downtown Miami.

“This is about celebrating our community, our heritage and our downtown district,” Reese said. “We want to grow the event. We see it as an opportunity to invest in the community. I’m excited about our future.”
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