The Route 6 River to River Classic Car Road Trip is taking place this weekend and the first overnight stop for participants will be in Newton on Friday.
“The Newton Convention & Visitors Bureau is excited once again to welcome the U.S. Route 6 Tourist Association to Newton” Newton CVB Executive Director Linda Bacon said. “Route 6 has been coming to Newton for the last few years and their presence gets a little larger every year; and we were able to partner them with the South Skunk Blues Society and the Thunder Nites in Newton for this and future trips.”
Iowa’s section of the historical ‘Grand Army of the Republic Highway’ stretches for 320 miles from Davenport to Council Bluffs.
David Darby, Iowa executive director for the Route 6 tourist organization, expects to have somewhere between 150 and 200 cars along on the ride.
“We came in really close to 100 for pre-registration online and then right around the same through the mail,” Darby said. “We usually get quite a few who will just show up without registering on the day of the event too … It’s going to be a great turn-out”
Darby touted the ride as not only an opportunity to get out and experience the historic Route 6, but also as a means to get a better taste of different Iowa communities and to support the locals businesses found across the state.
The banner for the event exclaims, right below the title, “No interstates, No chain restaurants,” and Darby says that they plan to live by that motto for the weekend tour.
“We’re not going to touch the interstate for a moment unless we absolutely have to for a bridge closure or other detour,” Darby said. “If you do the interstate, you’re crossing Iowa in about four and a half hours, and by the time you’re through you’re bored silly and you haven’t eaten anything other than chain restaurant fast food.”
He went on to explain how the Route 6 tour would be a great exhibition of all of the communities along the way, and help bring money back into the local economy at the same time.
“When you’re going to a mom-and-pop restaurant or hotel versus one of the larger corporate chains, that money is able to stay in the community and do much more good for the local economy … Otherwise it would travel up and leave the town, the state and sometimes the country,” Darby said. “We plan to go to as many local businesses as we can.”
He explained that each community might not have enough ‘local’ hotel rooms to accommodate the more than 150 cars that would participate, but they would make a concerted effort to only stop at local restaurants and businesses.
At least four of those stops in Newton have already been planned. When the drivers get into town on Friday night, they’ll have their options in entertainment. The tour organizers have planned for many of the attendees to visit the Valle Drive-In for the nightly double feature. Others will go to the Scoreboard Bar and Grill or the First Avenue Speakeasy, which will both be hosting bands for the travelers.
The next morning, the drivers will break their fast at Newton’s Midtown Café before rallying around the town square and embarking on the next leg of their trip, to Omaha.
The travelers will have a special escort as they pull out of Newton, heading down County Blacktop F48 towards Colfax. The Colfax Fire Department is sending out their 1947 Ford fire truck to run an escort for the group as they begin their second day of travel.
The fire truck won’t be the only Colfax emergency vehicle on the trip however.
Paul Kuhlman, 10-year police officer with the Colfax Police Department, is taking his department’s restored 1964 Ford Galaxy Police Car on the road. Kuhlman is driving the whole stretch of the tour and is also serving as the Jasper County Coordinator for the trip, having helped with arranging traffic safety through the county along with some of the events.
The Route 6 group continues to recruit sponsors for its road signs. To sponsor a sign, contact Darby. Bacon said the Newton CVB also works to promote the organization and its mission.
“The Newton CVB is also selling prints produced by the association at our new Newton Visitor Center,” she said. “Proceeds will benefit the association and the Newton CVB.”