Nancy Wilson

Drivin’ the Dixie participants parks at St. Paul 
Church during the 2015 event. This year 
they will congregate at the St. Joseph School 
parking lot, 17951 Dixie Highway.

(Chronicle file photo)

“Heads swivel when an antique car passes,” said Elaine Egdorf, chairwoman of the Homewood Heritage Committee. “When dozens of vintage and classic cars pass, mouths drop open in wonder.”

Area residents will have an opportunity to experience that wonder Saturday, June 18, when the 15th annual Drivin’ the Dixie vintage car tour rolls through Homewood.

Dixie Highway is one of the oldest and most historic interstate highways in the country, Egdorf said.

Drivin’ the Dixie participants will travel through 12 towns in northern Illinois viewing historic towns, landmarks, markers and sites.

From 130 to 200 cars have participated each year, travelling through the towns of Blue Island, Posen, Markham, Hazel Crest, Homewood, Flossmoor, Chicago Heights, Steger, Crete, Beecher, Grant Park and Momence.

The A’s R Us Model A Ford Car Club organizes the car registration. Registered participants receive a tour map, guide and a passport which is stamped at designated stops in each town making participants eligible for free raffle prizes.

Each town participates in its own way.

In Homewood cars will park in the St. Joseph Church parking lot.

A highlight this year will be a tour of the historic La Banque Hotel in Homewood. The building was constructed in 1925 as Homewood State Bank. In 2015 it opened as a boutique hotel and French restaurant.

The tour ends in Momence at Island Park in the Kankakee River.

The fee to drive in the tour is $15 per car for those who register by June 10. Day of event registration is $20 per car. In the first few years, participating cars were required to be older than the 1970, but due to requests to join the fun, modern vehicles are now welcome.

Send a check made out to A’s R Us, PO Box 3, Crete, IL 60417.

Registration the day of the event will be open from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Union Street and Western Avenue in Blue Island. Enter at High Street. For further information or to register online go to www.drivingthedixie.com. For general information contact Egdorf at 708-798-9535.

Dixie Highway was the first national road linking the north to the south, running from Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, to Miami, Florida. The road had a western route that begn in Chicago.

The western route began as a native American trail and later was an early trading route for settlers known as Hubbard’s Trail and Vincennes Trail.

Organizing efforts to establish a highway began in 1915 and paving was completed in 1925. To honor the centennial, participating towns were given a commemorative sign featuring the history of the highway.

Homewood’s sign is located in Independence Park at Dixie Highway and Hickory Road. It was dedicated during the 2015 Drivin’ the Dixie event.

The Chicago Southland Visitors and Convention Bureau presented the tour with a Tourism Award of Merit for efforts in promoting the Dixie Highway throughout the Chicago South Suburbs and in recognition of the highway’s 100th anniversary.

The effort also received a Superior Achievement Award from the Illinois State Historical.

The tour earned the Illinois State Historical Society Superior Achievement Award for its unique promotion of Illinois history in 2005.

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