Drivin the Dixie Days
From the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico – Join the Adventure of Drivin’ the Dixie and relive the history and romance of this historic route!
The Drivin’ the Dixie Festival takes place in the third Saturday in June in celebration of Illinois’ first State Highway: first known as Hubbard trail, then State Route1, followed by the Dixie Highway. Fifteen communities along a 120 mile stretch of the Dixie highway join together for a vintage car tour once a year on third Saturday in June.
Enjoy a leisurely drive in your vintage or modern car along the Historic Dixie Highway. Visit historic sites, specialty shops, antique shops, restaurants, and community events. Start the tour north at Blue Island or from the south in Danville. Stop where you please for as long as you like. Obtain a passport to be stamped in each town along the journey to be elgible for prizes awarded at the end of the day in Momence.
Hoopeston celebrates this event with a variety of activities in McFerren Park, along the Dixie Highway. From flea markets and yard sales to sporting events and kids games, Hoopeston has something fun for the whole family! Don’t forget to stop in Hoopeston as you make your trek along the Dixie!History
Hubbard’s Trail: Following a path worn by the buffalo from Minnesota to the salt likcks of Kentucky, Native Americans traveled the length of what is now the eastern border of the State of Illinois. French fur trapper-traders utilized the same trail. A young clerk, turned fur trader for the John Jacon Astor’s American Fur Trading Company, Gurdon Saltenstall Hubbard, became legendary as “Swiftwalker”. He established trading posts along the north-south trail from Chicago to Vincennes. The route was identified as Hubbard’s Trace on early maps. Suspecting the Winnebagos were going to attack Fort Dearborn in July 1827, Hubbard rode 140 miles to Danville, Illinois in 20 hours to recruit a company of Vermilion County Rangers. With early pioneers following the trace, the trail eventually became two wagon widths wide. In 1835 the Illinois general assembly ordered a state road to be established from Vincennes to Chicago and mile stones placed thereon. The trail was selected as the most direct and favorable route; the first official route in Illinois, thus Route 1. The road became known as Vincennes Trail. Original trail mile markers still exist in Crete and Rossville. Monuments in the Beverly section of Chicago, Crete Grant Park, and Rossville mark this historic route.
Hubbard’s wife was Watchkee, an Indian maiden for whom the town of Watseka is supposedly named. Hubbard, once called “the greatest citizen Chicago has ever known”, was one of its trustees, influential in the building of the I & M Canal, and built the convention hall where his friend Abraham Lincoln was nominated for president.
The route played significant roles in both World War I and II supplementing the railroads by carrying supplies from north to south. By 1925, the official map of the Dixie Highway consisted of 5,786 miles of improved roadway, doubling the length that the organizers anticipated.