Location of Kingman 66 Fest causes consternation with downtown businesses

The location of the Kingman 66 Fest in Kingman, Arizona, and the apparent lack of communication about the event sparked an uproar with the city’s downtown businesses, according to a local media outlet.

The Bee reports the Kingman 66 Fest on Nov. 5-6 at Lewis Kingman Park two miles from downtown was “quietly” planned, even without the mayor knowing about it.

“I’m shocked and upset that after 18 months of a pandemic that has nearly shuttered businesses downtown the City would plan its first over 2 miles away. These businesses downtown have struggled to stay afloat and instead of creating a fest where there are a concentration of shops and restaurants, they throw it in a dog park. That will only encourage out-of-area food vendors and crafters to participate. I have a physical store and staff costs and shouldn’t have to spend money to run a booth 2 miles away, I’m invested in the downtown,” said Jessica Deihl the owner of local boutique and soap store Savon Bath Treats
Jake Alexander from downtown business Thunder-Rode Motorcycle Accessories also had a lot to say, “This is really a joke now. If this goes through, you have created an island event for people to attend. They will park, they will stroll through the vendor area, they will go back to their cars and drive away to their destinations if they are travelers or to do their morning grocery shopping if they are locals. No one is going to get in their car and drive to downtown Kingman after they visit that event at dog park.”

City manager Ron Foggin insisted the festival was “developed by the City Team” and that city officials, the local Route 66 association, tourism bureau, economic development, public works, police and fire departments had a hand in it.

Scott Dunton, owner of Dunton Dream Machines and Mr. Dz’s restaurant in Kingman, responded to Foggin’s assertion:

“Please count me as skeptical, since you mentioned the team that helped plan this included the local Route 66 association, which is me (President of the Kingman Route 66 Association), Craig Graves, Keith Walker who is a Kingman City councilman. None of these people including myself ever heard of it, until Jack Alexander’s email. I had called Mayor Miles, Gary Kellog and Keith Walker all from the city and at the time no one knew about it.”

The festival, which will have vendors, music and family-friendly activities, will be about two weeks after the Kingman Street Drags on Oct. 22-24, which also is about two miles from the downtown area and Route 66-heavy Powerhouse Visitors Center.

UPDATE 9/14/2021: Josh Noble at the Kingman Office of Tourism emailed a response, saying the story was “is at best a misleading collection of statements that were compiled (but not fact-checked) by The Bee.”

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Our committee is hosting the Kingman 66 Fest in a historic park that’s located on Historic Route 66, it was one of the original rest stops along the Mother Road. It has a small dog park, but that’s a small component of 8.5-acre park that has lots of grass and old-growth trees. It’s about 3 times larger than the park downtown with much more parking. We chose that location instead of Downtown Beale Street not only for these amenities but also because we wanted the event on Route 66 (not a block off of Route 66). We are working with the Route 66 Association of Arizona, not the Route 66 Association of Kingman (which is really only comprised of 3 or 4 people). The committee is very excited about this new format and the feedback we’ve received from the community is that people are excited to see us try out a new event location. Everyone enjoys going downtown for events, but not every time Kingman has an event.  We’ve extended an invitation to downtown to host a vendor space (as no cost to them) at our event to inform people of all the wonderful things there are to do in downtown Kingman.
Thank you, we’re just trying to keep positive and put on a great Route 66 event for Kingman and for Arizona.

(Image of the Kingman 66 Fest logo)

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