The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

June 8, 2007

Drivin’ the Dixie boosts small-town pride

Father’s Day weekend event honors old highway

ROSSVILLE — If the third time’s the charm, Rossville’s Drivin’ the Dixie Days should be the most successful in the brief his-tory of the local event.

The Rossville celebration takes place in conjunction with the daylong Drivin’ the Dixie, which takes motorists along the old Dixie Highway from Danville to Momence. It’s the third year for the event.

While the focus of that one-day event is antique cars and historic landmarks, Rossville expanded the concept into a three-day celebration, which will run Friday through June 17.

“Since it’s Father’s Day weekend, we’re celebrating with a salute to boys and their toys,” said Marilyn Danner, vice president of the Rossville Community Organization and co-chairwoman with Wendy Dunavan of the community’s Drivin’ the Dixie Days.

“We have the Illinois Pullers Association coming Friday night. That’s a very big event for such a small town. We’ll have peo-ple coming from Indiana and Kentucky.

“We also have an antique tractor and gas engine show on Saturday and Sunday. There’s a vintage car, motorcycle and truck show on Saturday,” Danner said.

The small community just north of Danville has come back to life since a 2004 fire destroyed a large section of its business district.

The following year, community organizers learned of the tour along the old Dixie Highway, now Illinois Route 1. That event inspired a healthy dose of civic pride, along with a variety of brand-new activities.

“Before the fire, we had blinders on to the fact that we were a dying community,” Danner said.

“We had a specialty niche with antiques, but that market had become saturated. It took the fire to open our eyes.

“When the high school closed, people thought that was it for us. They were ready to kick the dirt over us.

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