Pike County Color Drive history
The Pike County Color Drive
was an idea that just popped in the minds of a couple of Pike County
residents Gordon and Kay Samson when they were on their short fall trip into
Iowa, north of Dubuque. People had various items of food, fruit, and several
types of flea market items. They got out, browsed the area and after getting
back in their car they started discussing that Pike County could do the same
only on a larger scale, perhaps County Wide.
The more they talked about it the better the idea sounded.
Originally they discussed the idea that it would be a good way to provide
individuals of Pike County an opportunity to make a little extra cash by
providing goods and services to Pike County visitors who could enjoy the
beauty of Pike County and at the same time patronize that people who wished
to provide various items and food for sale.
They had been to the Spoon River drive and felt that Pike County , a land
between the two great rivers of Illinois, had a lot more to offer in the way
of scenery than did the Spoon River Country. Similar to Spoon River, the
Pike area has a very rich history and they felt that could also be something
that could be an advantage to draw people to the area.
Pike County had been a well kept secret throughout the state, not
necessarily intentional, and it was felt that if people from other areas
could only see what is to be offered here they might also want to consider
re-locating here either for business reasons, retirement, or just plain good
"We thought the concept should be that each town would do whatever it
wanted to do. The idea wasn't so much to have craft fairs as was to bring
people into the county and keep them moving." Samson took the idea to a Pike
County Chamber meeting and told Ted Bear about it while we were waiting for
the meeting to start. Baer and Samson set up a meeting and invited people
who we knew would be interested in the idea. The two members made it a point
to contact town boards, city councils, community clubs, etc in each of the
communities in the county and promote the idea. A county-wide committee was
formed and started meeting in the basement meeting room of the CIPS building
in Pittsfield. This hardworking committee did the ground work,
brainstorming, putting articles in local newspapers, etc. It was decided to
call the event the Pike County Color Tour and was so named for the first two
years. The committee decided on a name change after the second year it
became the Pike County Color Drive. The Committee also attempted to predict
when the leaves on the trees would be at their peak in changing colors but
found out that was literally impossible to predict. After some deliberation
the third weekend of October was chosen as the permanent date for the Color
The group organized, had brochures printed and advertised. That first
year we ran out of everything," Baer said. And we did it with only area
advertising and word of mouth.
Gordon painted the signs and I hung them. It took $1500 to get the first
one off the ground.
The first year was not too big but it was considered successful enough to
continue to promote it. There was some interest in various communities and
it took off. Pike County is a beautiful place and people need to come and
see it, I think it was a well kept secret until Color Drive."