EDWARDSVILLE - The 26th annual Edwardsville Route 66 Festival and a rocking recollection of the historic Mississippi River Festival that ran from 1969 to 1980 will fuel a fun-filled trip down memory lane for five days in June.

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Events are planned for Wednesday, June 5, through Sunday, June 9, to celebrate both the historic Mother Road, which for decades ran through Edwardsville, and the star-studded outdoor concert series that attracted scores of top-tier performers to Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.

“Route 66 helped put this City on the map, while the historic Mississippi River Festival put us in the spotlight with so many unbelievable performances,” Mayor Art Risavy said. “We are looking forward to revisiting and celebrating both in June.”

The Route 66 Festival, hosted by Edwardsville’s Parks and Recreation Department, once again will be back at City Park, 101 S. Buchanan Street. A full day of events, entertainment, food, vendors and family fun is set for Saturday, June 8, to celebrate the scenic highway. Trolley tours will highlight key City sites from that era; a classic car show and cruise will put vintage vehicles in the spotlight; a retro dining area will let visitors savor the flavors of yesteryear; a family zone and full slate of bands will offer entertainment for all ages; and a roadside market will feature fun finds. More details about the festival are available at: www.edwardsvilleroute66.com

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Gear up for additional Route 66 fun a day early -- on Friday, June 7, when the West End Service Station, 620 St. Louis Street, celebrates its first anniversary. This site served locals and highway travelers alike during its era in Edwardsville. It reopened last June as the City’s free Route 66 visitor center, thanks to a joint effort between the City and Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau, which staffs the station. The celebration runs from 10-11 a.m. but the station will be open until 4 p.m. Also in June, the West End Service Station will debut its expanded schedule. As of June 5, it will be open five days a week, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Find details at: www.greatriversandroutes.com

On Friday night, June 7, the Edwardsville Parks and Recreation Department will once again offer a free showing of the Route 66-inspired animated flick “Cars” at Leclaire Park, 900 Hale Avenue. The movie starts at 8 p.m., but kids can bring a box at 6:30 p.m. to create a cardboard car for a pre-movie parade. The Edwardsville Arts Center will assist with this fun activity. Route 66-themed fun for children and families also will be available beginning later this month at the Edwardsville Children’s Museum, which will celebrate the opening of its Route 66 Roadway and Discovery Garden expansion. More information can be found: at www.edwcm.org

In coordination with the Route 66 events, a series of activities celebrating the historic Mississippi River Festival will take place the same week.

Wednesday, June 5: The Madison County Historical Society will host an opening night reception for its monthlong “MRF Roadshow” exhibition at the historic Weir House, 801 N. Main Street. The event will feature historic Mississippi River Festival memorabilia from the collection of Lyle Ward, a former festival director, and runs from 4:30-7:30 p.m. with a suggested $25 admission. Proceeds will benefit the historical society’s museum. The exhibit will remain on display through June 30 at the museum with free admission. Find more details at: www.madcohistory.org

Thursday, June 6, and Friday, June 7: “Starry Starry Nights: Celebrating the Mississippi River Festival” will be performed at the Wildey Theatre. On the heels of their rousing 2023 Route 66 musical revue, the Alumni Players will present a 90-minute tribute to the historic festival and its performances, which drew artists including the Who, the Grateful Dead, Tina Turner and more. “Starry Starry Nights” will be offered in partnership with the Friends of the Wildey; proceeds will benefit an arts scholarship for Edwardsville High School graduates. Tickets are available at: www.wildeytheatre.com

Sunday, June 9: The final event will include a panel discussion and partial screening of a documentary on the SIUE concert series. ”Backstage and Behind-the-Scenes at the MRF” will feature Mark Pierce, author of “When the Stars Came Out,” along with co-authors Lyle Ward and Jack Twesten. Photos and festival memorabilia will be on display; a book signing and reception also will take place. The event is set for 2-4 p.m. at the Leclaire Room of Lewis & Clark Community College’s N.O. Nelson Complex, 600 Troy Road. Lewis & Clark and Bella Milano are co-sponsors of the event.

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