Pike County, Illinois hopes a bit of holiday cheer and word of mouth will boost tourism and economic development in the area.
Access Illinois Outdoors held its fifth annual Christmas at Pike County Lodges Bus Tour event today.
Folks from as far away as Peoria and St. Charles, Missouri got off the bus at Sprague's Kinderhook Lodge...just one stop on the Pike County Lodge Christmas Tour. These tourists enjoyed food, music and a special tour at each lodge
Pike County, Illinois is the home to four large lodges like this one, built to cater to the hunters who flock here every fall for the bow and firearms deer seasons. The hunting industry here brings in around 20 million dollars of business a year. But after hunters head home, outfitters and owners of these lodges face empty rooms. Pat Sprague with Sprague Kinderhook Lodge says that led her family to diversify, which has folks packing different luggage to come here year round.
Sprague said, "We do family reunions and quilt retreats. That's actually what we're known for all across the country for our quilting retreats."
The whole goal is to make Pike county a vacation destination. Brenda Middendorf with Access Illinois Outdoors says it's working.
Middendorf said, "They're buying gas here, they're eating here and spending money."
Which brings us back to the holiday lodge tours.
The goal of this event is larger than this bus. Organizers hope folks like what they see and return to Pike County.
And folks here believe it will work - because they say there's no advertising like the word of mouth.
If you'd like to take the Pike County Lodge Tour, it's not too late.
There's another one this Saturday.
To take the bus or a driving tour call Illinois Access Outdoors at (217)285-2464