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Red Carpet Route 66 050110
Amanda Braithwaite, of Braidwood, shows her daughter Denise, 4, a yard decoration Saturday, May 1, 2010, at the 4th Annual Red Carpet Route 66 Corridor Festival in Towanda. (Pantagraph/CARLOS T. MIRANDA)

TOWANDA -- Interstate 55 may have more traffic, but old Route 66 still boasts something that the interstate does not: a historical celebration.

Travelers visited Towanda's North Park Saturday to honor the Mother Road at the fourth annual Red Carpet Corridor Festival. Towanda was the southern end point of the festival, which extended north to Joliet and included music, garage sales and food at towns in between.

Susan Arteman and her husband, Jim, coordinate the event, which concludes today.

"The idea of the Red Carpet Corridor Festival is to get people to travel Route 66 from town to town," said Susan Arteman.

In Towanda, visitors could stroll booths filled with antiques, woodwork, toys, paintings and all sorts of flea market items.

Diane Caine, owner of The Cousin's Dog Biscuit Co. in Urbana, has spent the last four years selling dog treats and clothes during Towanda's festivities.

"It's not a big festival, but it's fun," said Caine. "It's growing. We will be here until they don't do it anymore."

Libby Worden, Normal, visited the Towanda celebration for the first time with daughter-in-law, Cara McGuire, and six-year-old granddaughter, Hailey.

"You get a lot of neat ideas," said Worden. "If you're an 'antiquer'-it's good."

Not only are there sales, there are also stories.

Lexington resident Carl Painter remembers driving Old 66 to Chicago to visit relatives long before the interstate was built.

Tami Welch of Cornell likes to tell her children stories about the road. She and her husband Steve began in Odell Saturday, heading south.

"We've stopped at all the routes along the way," said Tami Welch. The couple said they liked the festival because it was something different.

"Everyone's doing their own thing, it's kind of nice," added her husband.

Fran and Fred Walk of rural Towanda have attended every year.

"You can tell it's grown," said Fred. "The town is really starting to embrace it."

 

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