Drivin’ the Dixie revs up for 11th tour
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org June 13, 2012 9:54PM
Old and rare vehicles have long been a staple of Drivin' the Dixie. | File photo
Updated: July 15, 2012 3:22PM
Be it Grandpa’s Model T, Dad’s Mustang or your brand-new Chevy Volt, engines are being revved up for the 11th Annual Drivin’ the Dixie road tour Saturday.
The route, which runs from Blue Island to Momence, follows the historic Dixie Highway, with various fun stops in each community along the way.
In the early years, the event included only pre-1970 cars. But it proved so popular that all cars now are eligible, said Elaine Egdorf, chair of Homewood’s Heritage Committee and one of the event founders.
About 200 vehicles are expected, be they owned by car buffs or families looking to experience something different.
“We really want people to take their time and have fun. The first few years, we’d go en masse, but we were afraid we’d have an accident. We’ve never had one. We tell people to drive at their leisure and enjoy the day,” Egdorf said.
Registration is $20 per car from 8 to 10 a.m. at the starting point, Union Street and Western Avenue (Dixie Highway) in Blue Island.
Drivers of registered cars will receive a tour guide, map, passports to be stamped at each stop for free raffle prizes, and a Dixie Highway windshield sticker.
“That $20 is for the entire car. That’s a pretty good price for a full day of fun,” Egdorf said.
After leaving Blue Island, participants will get a taste of the Southland, driving to Posen, Markham, Hazel Crest, Homewood, Flossmoor, Chicago Heights, Steger, Crete, Beecher, Grant Park and finishing up in Momence with a festival at Island Park on the Kankakee River.
Each community offers something different. For example, in Steger, participants will get their free hot dog lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Chicago Heights’ Union Street Gallery & Studio, 1257 Otto Blvd., offers drivers a chance to stretch their legs and soak up some culture.
An all-day festival will be held in Beecher, and communitywide garage sales await treasure-seekers in Grant Park.
Organizers try to add new things every year “to keep it fresh and interesting,” Egdorf said.
This year, much of the focus in Homewood is expected to be on the impressive murals by Richard Haas that can be found on walls in the downtown area.
“It’s realistic imagery that is used to created an optical illusion,” Egdorf said.
One mural, she said, convinced a viewer that a diner was in Homewood, complete with a Greyhound bus parked in front.
The diner does not exist, but the highway does.
Planning for the Dixie Highway, stretching from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, began in 1915, Egdorf said. Paving was completed in 1925.
A few years ago, Drivin’ the Dixie won the Superior Achievement Award from the Illinois State Historical Society for its unique promotion of state history.
For more information, call (708) 798-9535 or visit www.drivingthedixie.com. Schedules are available in each participating community and at Homewood’s village hall and library.