It is the only annual conference that
focuses on the history, preservation, and economic development of
communities along Route 66. The conference typically draws 100+
participants and is the only annual conference that focuses on the
history, preservation, education, and economic development of Route
66. The main location for the conference this year is Uptown
Station, 11 Uptown Circle, in Normal, IL.
The conference focuses on Route 66, but additionally showcases what
is unique about the area. In this case, the 2019 conference will
showcase Bloomington-Normal’s historic connection to the circus, as
well as the communities’ substantial Route 66 assets and
attractions. Bloomington-Normal is experiencing the positive
economic development impact of Route 66 via the 2015 opening of the
Cruisin’ with Lincoln on Route 66 Visitors Center located at the
McLean County Museum of History.
Additionally, Ryburn Place at Sprague’s Super Service opened in 2017
on Route 66 in Normal as a visitor center and gift shop. The
traditional conference hot dog roast will be held at Ryburn Place at
Sprague’s on Thursday, October 17 from 7-9pm. An optional bus tour
will also be a part of the first day of the conference. Conference
sessions will be held on Friday and Saturday.
The Friday night conference keynote speaker, Candacy Taylor will
discuss a project she has been working on since 2013: Overground
Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America.
Her research is based on The Negro Motorist Green Book, published
from 1936-1967 by Victor H. Green, a black postal worker from
Harlem, New York.
Taylor is an award-winning author, cultural critic, and photographer
with a Master’s Degree in Visual Criticism. Her work has been
featured in over 30 major outlets including: The New Yorker, The
Wall St. Journal, Guardian UK, The Library of Congress,
Photographer’s Forum (cover), Rachel Ray, PBS, the CBC, BBC and NPR.
“The Green Book” has been called the “Bible of Black Travel” and the
AAA guide for black people; its purpose was to assist them in
traveling the country with dignity and safety. The book featured
barbershops, beauty salons, department stores, restaurants,
nightclubs, taverns, gas stations, garages, and other businesses who
served or accommodated black people. The book was the inspiration
behind the award-winning movie of the same name.
Candacy Taylor’s presentation is not only the keynote for the Route
66 Miles of Possibility Conference, but it is also free and open to
the public. The presentation will be held at ISU Alumni Center, 1101
North Main Street, Normal, IL on Friday, October 18, from 7-9pm.
This special presentation is co-sponsored by the Town of Normal and
the City of Bloomington.
addition to the Abraham Lincoln and Route 66 history of
Bloomington-Normal, the twin cities also share an extensive circus
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Starting in the 1870s, a couple of barns and the YWCA served as
practice sites for aerial performers, who became famous and are still revered in
American circus history. The art of trapeze, in particular, became a specialty
in the area during the golden age of aerialists. Circus acts like The Flying
LaVans, The Flying Fishers, The Flying Wards, The Flying Concellos, The Flying
Valentinos, and many others helped shape the aerial acts of today.
Gamma Phi Circus (GP) at Illinois State University in Normal,
founded in 1929, is the oldest collegiate circus in the United States. Circus
Director Marcus Alouan, Artistic Director Ivan Stoinev, and Aerial Coach Maritza
Atayde will discuss the history of Gamma Phi and share their personal stories of
circus performance and travel.
Also new to the conference this year is the “Roadie Panel” – a discussion of
wide- ranging Route 66 topics with well-known Route 66 Roadies. The panel will
be moderated by Jim Livingston who is a professional photographer known for "I
Am Rt 66" which is a project by Jim and Route 66 enthusiast Bob Lile showcasing
the people found along Route 66. Jim will be talking with the distinguished
panel of Roadies that includes Penny Black, Ron Jones, Rita Kirchoff and Mike
Wallace. Livingston’s “I AM Rt 66” photography will also be on display
throughout the conference.
Additional topics include history, preservation, economic potential, internet
security, social media and much more. Conference sessions run throughout Friday
and Saturday. Complete conference schedule is located at milesofpossibility.com.
On Saturday evening at the Eagles Club in Bloomington, is the conference dinner,
live circus performance, and live music from Third Street Down, an extremely
talented up and coming band from Bloomington.
On Sunday, the conference wraps up with a Cruise-In at Ryburn Place at Sprague’s
Super Service from 11am-2pm. The Cruise-In is being hosted by the Mid-State
Cruisers with special guests, the Prairie Capital Corvair Association. The Blues
Brothers Mobile will also be on display, courtesy of Ron Romero of the Illinois
Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66.
Special thanks to our conference sponsors: Town of Normal, City of Bloomington,
Bloomington-Normal Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, McLean County Museum of
History/Cruisin’ with Lincoln on Route 66 Visitors Center, Ryburn Place at
Sprague’s Super Service and the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.
Registration for the full conference is $100 ($90 for early registration before
October 1st). You can also register for Friday October 18 only and Saturday
October 19 only for $50 per day.
Hotel information, vendor information and additional information is available at
milesofpossibility.com, by email at
email@example.com or call 309-452-5325.
Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway]