" . . . standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, it's such a fine site to see / It's a girl, my Lord in a flatbed Ford, slowin' down to take a look at me. . . . "
When Glenn Frey sang those words 35 years ago on the Eagles hit Take It Easy, Winslow was a dying town on the Mother Road. Winona may have been remembered by people getting their kicks on Route 66, but Winslow was forgotten as Interstate 40 bypassed what was once the largest town in Northern Arizona.
But this road town will be remembered this weekend as thousands of Eagles fans from around the world slow down for the Standin' on the Corner Festival, which runs Friday and Saturday in downtown Winslow.
The festival features plenty of fun and food for the whole family, as well as two days of rock and roll, from local faves like Tommy Dukes and Mogollon, as well as Eagles tribute band Hotel California. The Eagles themselves have donated an autographed guitar, which will be auctioned off at the festival as well.
Now in its ninth year, the festival is the brainchild of the Standin' on the Corner Foundation, a group working to revitalize Winslow's downtown core. The group is an outgrowth of the La Posada Foundation, which successfully saved a historic Winslow hotel in the '90s.
"The Santa Fe (railroad) moved out and left the La Posada Hotel. But there was so much grass and old trees that it was worth saving. We then decided we needed a 'Standin' on the Corner' as well, because the only place for tourists to get their picture taken with a sign that said Winslow was in front of the post office," says Yvonne Howeth, a member of the board of directors of the Standin' on the Corner Foundation.
The result of the foundation's efforts is Standin' on the Corner Park in downtown Winslow. The park features a life-size bronze statue by Ron Adamson, depicting a tousle-haired man with a guitar, as well as a mural of a blonde woman in a Ford truck by John Pugh.
And the foundation's plan worked. Not that the revitalization hasn't been without bumps.
"The building the mural is painted on burned down several years ago and we thought we were going to lose the wall," says Howeth. "For the past three years the park was closed to the public while we tried to save the wall. It's been reinforced now, so the fence has come down and visitors can get their picture taken with the statue and mural again."
According to Howeth the park now attracts more than 1,000 visitors a week from around the globe. And with more than 7,000 expected for the festival, Standin' on the Corner Park won't be able to contain the crowds. The festival has been moved a few blocks away.
You won't see any members of the Eagles at the festival, however. However, they have seen the park.
"The band has been incredibly supportive, especially (drummer) Don Henley. They've visited the park, but they come late at night," says Howeth. "When Jackson Browne (who co-wrote Take It Easy with Eagles singer Glenn Frey) played in Window Rock a few years ago, he mentioned stopping at the park at three in the morning to avoid the crowds."
More info at the park's official site.