Five Reasons to Red, White and BOOM

I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter lately about the big 4th of July celebration on Peoria’s Riverfront. Many people have been asking questions like, “What makes this event so great?” or “Is it really worth fighting the crowds and the heat?”

As someone who was born in Peoria and has basically spent each summer of my life in the area, I can tell you that it’s completely worth it! Just to help break it down for you, I’ve jotted down my list of the five best things about the UnityPoint Health–Methodist Red, White and Boom.

Enjoy!

redwhiteandboom_CREDIT Tim McGrath

5. Watch the Show from a Boat?

Good question, but there are hundreds of people who take to the Illinois River just to get the best seat in the house for the fireworks show. I’ve only been on the river for the fireworks show one time when I was a lot younger, but I remember being amazed at how much bigger the fireworks appeared when closer. It makes the entire waiting process fly by, and what’s better than taking a dip to cool off? I’d suggest anyone with the opportunity to hop on a boat should jump on board and experience the best fireworks show in the state like never before.

4. Private Party Viewing Opportunitiesnewfourthofjulybanner

The unique location of downtown Peoria and East Peoria allows private businesses the opportunity to host 4th of July parties. Some of the most popular parties are at the Embassy Suites, Peoria Riverfront Museum, and Dozer Park, but there are several other chances for viewers to pay for a comfortable seat, food and drinks while watching the fireworks. This makes the event less of a project, because you can leave the coolers and lawn chairs behind.

3. Family Traditions

On a personal note, it has been tradition in my family to head down to the riverfront each 4th of July. I’ve been forced to battle the crowds, heat and even rain to keep the family tradition alive, but after each fireworks show, I know it was worth it. Red, White and BOOM is the perfect tradition for young families to start. It’s something that can be passed on through generations, just as my family will do in the future. Each year as a kid, I looked forward to packing up the coolers and heading down to the riverfront and, looking back, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

2. Much, Much More than a Fireworks Show

The Riverfront celebration is so much more than a fireworks show, and that’s what sets it apart from other 4th of July celebrations in the area. Starting at 5 PM, the riverfront will be jam packed with vendors, live entertainment and more on both sides of the river, giving the entire night a “festival” atmosphere. Over 175,000 people from every type of background and each part of the area come together for one night to celebrate 78464567 copyour independence. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s much more than just a fireworks show.

1. The Big Show

There’s nothing quite like this fireworks show in the state. It’s the reason people flock to Peoria’s and East Peoria’s downtown areas. Not only is the show synced to a patriotic musical soundtrack radio broadcast, but they’re also lighting off over $3,500 every single minute. The show usually lasts between 20-30 minutes and is ranked in the top 3% of fireworks shows in the entire country. During the incredible display, the echoes off of the buildings in downtown Peoria are so powerful that they can be felt in your stomach. And if you think that’s amazing, just wait until that finale that brings viewers to their feet year after year.

So, there you have it. My five reasons for you to Red, White and Boom!

We want to hear your favorite parts about the UnityPoint-Methodist Red, White and BOOM celebration in the comment box below.

Written By: Andrew Ketterer
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What’s “Playing In Peoria?” – June 26

It’s already the end of June and many fun activities in the area are on the horizon, but this week I have a few events/activities that will be enough to hold you over until the highly anticipated 4th of July celebration. There were plenty of activities to choose from this week, but I wanted to pick a few that would get you out of that comfy couch of yours and into the local communities. So go ahead, take a chance on something that you’ve never done before and surprise yourself!

Also, if there are any upcoming Member activities that you’re interested in, go ahead a comment below and I’ll get back to you with whatever I can find.

Enjoy…

Morton Community Bank (MVB) Cycling Classic: World-class cyclists will compete in various ages and skill levels at the MCB Cycling Classic on June 29. This cycling event in Morton will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and takes advantage of the “hometown” feel of the village, its unique downtown course and the opportunity to add other components to the race. The kid’s race is open to children of all ages, racing various lengths according to age. It is a great way to introduce cycling to a new generation. So whether you interested in trying something new, or if you’re a lifelong cycling fan, head out to Morton this weekend!

Peoria Chiefs: Head down to Dozer Park this Friday, June 28, to watch the Peoria Chiefs (St. Louis Cardinals) take on the Quad City Riverred white boom Bandits (Houston Astros). Not only is it a great opportunity to watch some baseball, but stick around after the game for a fireworks show that is sure to make this Friday night one to remember. There’s even an opportunity for fans to win a flat screen television! Please, try to explain what’s stopping you from attending this game.

Wedding Banned (CEFCU Center Stage): Just skip the ceremony and start the party!  Wedding Banned is a musical experience, a show, an event and something you will not forget. Wedding Banned has become the hottest party in the Midwest, playing hits from the 80’s, 90’s and beyond.  Each night, the band picks two members from the audience to become the “bride” and “groom” and turns every show into the ultimate wedding reception.  Whether it’s the bride and groom on stage during the garter toss, or beautiful ladies from the audience rocking with the band, you can throw the rules of a traditional rock show out the window.  If you want to have one of those, “you should have been there” nights, head down to the Peoria RiverFront for the show on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

River City Bags ClassicIf you’re in the mood for some friendly competition, head down to Kelleher’s Irish Pub and Eatery on Saturday, June 29. The sixth annual River City Bags Classic will be happening from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. This year’s tournament will be broken up by skill level into three divisions. The proceeds will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Peoria. So, if you’re in a competitive mood, but still want to have fun and enjoy some time with friends, head down to the Riverfront to throw a few bags!

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Robo Rumble (Peoria Riverfront Museum): Robots are taking over Peoria Riverfront Museum Saturday, June 29, and you can be a part of the rumble! Robots, large and small, will battle throughout the day in various competitions. This amazing day of robotic activities will be hosted by area high school student FIRST robotics teams from Peoria, Galesburg and Bloomington. This event is free and open to the public, but general admission is required to participate or view activities taking place in the galleries. Don’t miss out on the action-packed day of robots rumbling the Peoria Riverfront Museum!

As always, stay busy Peoria and keep it here for news on everything “Playing in Peoria!”

Written By: Andrew Ketterer

This post is part of a weekly series that is designed to promote a weekly schedule of Peoria Area Convention and Visitor Bureau Member businesses and events.

Tee It Up In Peoria!

Is it just me, or does everyone peek out their office windows on a beautiful day, see the sunshine and think, “What a great day for golf?” The awesome thing about the Peoria Area is that you have so many opportunities to get your fix of pulling out a driver before teeing one up and letting it rip. With over 20 courses in the immediate area open to the public, it’s a perfect location for one of those golf-getaway-weekends every avid golfer dreams of.

I don’t want to bore you by going through each and every course in the area, so I’ve picked out a few of my local favorites that should help in deciding where to make your tee-times when visiting. These courses vary in difficulty and price, but are the places I’d suggest for an entertaining morning or afternoon in Peoria.

So, without further ado, I give to you my favorite courses in the Peoria Area.

Kellogg Golf Course

Peoria, ILkellogg
Par: 72
Length: 6,775 Yards
Course Rating: 71.9
Slope: 129
 

Kellogg was already one of the nicer courses in the area, but the recent renovations have kicked the level of golf into another gear. It now features bent grass fairways and greens, new sand bunkers, uplifted trees, improved drainage and an updated clubhouse. It’s the perfect place to fit in a quick round or, if you’re not ready for 18 holes, the Executive 9 may be the perfect option. This shorter and easier nine hole course fits every skill level. There’s no question that Kellogg offers the best round of golf compared to all of the Peoria Park District courses. When you’re heading to Peoria, be sure to give their clubhouse a ring and make your tee time.

Lick Creek Golf Course

Pekin, ILLick Creek
Par: 72
Length: 6,910 Yards
Course Rating: 73.5
Slope: 137
 

Lick Creek is the course that I love to hate. What I mean is that I love playing there, but for some reason my game just doesn’t fit the course. But let me tell you, I haven’t had more fun playing eighteen holes in the area. One of my favorite holes is the par 5 second. The tee shot is one for the ages, with an extremely elevated tee into a fairway that takes a hard right turn at the landing area. Every time I step up onto the tee box, I am forced to decide to play it safe or cut the corner. It’s the ultimate risk/reward decision. The rest of the course offers a nice variety between shots focused on length and accuracy. This is a tough, but fun course that travelers in the area should certainly make a priority!

Metamora Fields

Metamora, ILIMG_0579
Par: 71
Length: 7,100 Yards
Course Rating: 74.1
Slope: 130
 

Metamora Fields will instantly give you a taste of links golf from Europe. This course has everything you’d want in a classic course, while remaining playable for golfers of every skill level. Metamora Fields opened in 2011, but is quickly becoming one of the more well-known courses in the area. Immediately upon entering the parking lot, you’ll know that you’re in for quite an experience. The beautiful landscape and breathtaking club house set the tone for 18 holes of golf. So whether you’re a scratch golfer or you have a handicap of 20+, this course is a guaranteed fun time!

WeaverRidge Golf Club

Peoria, ILGolf Course Pictures
Par: 72
Length: 7,030 Yards
Course Rating: 73.1
Slope: 136
 

WeaverRidge is without a doubt the best course in the area, in my opinion. There’s a big difference between a round of 18 holes and an experience, and at WeaverRidge, you’re paying for both. The course offers golfers a chance at playing a championship style course with bent grass tees and fairways, fast and true greens, along with dramatic elevation changes. This isn’t a course you should expect to shoot your best round on, because you’ll end up being disappointed. When you’re on the way to WeaverRidge Golf Club, just remember that it’s an experience, not the PGA Tour Championship. Although if you do have the round of your life, don’t be afraid to brag about it with your buddies!

So for all of you golfers out there, come tee it up in Peoria! With so many quality golf courses in the area that vary in difficulty levels, it’d be a shame to hit one “out of bounds” by going anywhere else!

Written By: Andrew Ketterer

What’s “Playing in Peoria?” – June 19

When I grew up, it was weekends like this that made me say “there’s nothing to do here” in that whiny teenage voice I’ve gladly grown out of. If only I would’ve had a blog site like River City Ramblings to keep me updated on everything happening in Peoria! Although the Peoria Chiefs are out of town, not much is happening at the Peoria Civic Center and there’s only one concert at CEFCU Center Stage, there’s still so much happening in the area that most people don’t know about.

So I’ve taken on the responsibility of promoting these hidden-gem events in this week’s edition of “What’s Playing in Peoria?”

Duryea Days: For the 9th year, this festival will emerge on the streets of Peoria Heights, and this year it’s expanding. A number of local businesses and Heritage Square will join Tower Park in hosting this two-day festival that is jam-packed with family-friendly activities. Tower Park will feature live music, draft beer, food vendors, a car and motorcycle show, and a hot dog eating contest. A fashion show will be taking place with the Sidewalk Sale on Saturday along the street. Heritage square will boast a bags tournament, dunk tank, food, beer and a remote radio broadcast from Classic Rock 93.3. Stop by the festival sometime this weekend to get a taste of Peoria Heights!olde

Olde English Faire: This Middle Ages-themed festival pays tribute to the sights, sounds, speech and activities of the time period. There will be mock battles between jousters, sword fighters and archers. Take in the tales, tricks and tunes of amazing story tellers, magicians and musicians. There will be plenty of hearty food and beverages offered throughout the Park, as well as shaded areas to rest, restroom facilities and free parking. I’d hate to forget to mention that dressing in costume earns you $1 off of your ticket price. For a trip through history that is full of fun, head out to Wildlife Prairie Park.

Peoria Historical Society Trolley Tours: Two of the well-known trolley tours offered by the Peoria Historical Society are the “Old Peoria & the Judge Tour” and the “Naughty to Nice Tour,” which takes you through Peoria’s history from the gambling and gangsters to the four All-America City Awards. There’s no doubt that the trolley tours are one of the hidden gems in the city. What better way to learn about the local culture and who Peoria really is than to take a ride through history?

Live at the Five Spot: For some Friday night music, head to the Contemporary Arts Center on Water Street in downtown Peoria. Ed and Janet Kaizer will be performing their unique sound of classical music mixed in with some jazz. If you don’t quite feel ready to go home after the show, stick around for introductory Salsa dance classes. Talk about a fun Friday night!

2013 Great Race: Peoria will host a lunch stop on the 2013 Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Hagerty on Monday, June 24th. I know, I know. This list of events is only supposed to include weekend activities, but this event is so cool that I couldn’t pass it up. Just after noon,great race the classic cars will begin arriving in one-minute intervals for more than an hour and a half and stay for an hour each to allow spectators to visit with participants and to look at the cars. Most car owners will allow children to climb into them so they can get a closer look. Be sure to head down to the Peoria RiverFront for lunch on Monday and enjoy the classic cars as they make a stop in Peoria.

As always, stay busy Peoria and keep it here for news on everything “Playing in Peoria!”

Written By: Andrew Ketterer

This post is part of a weekly series that is designed to promote a weekly schedule of Peoria Area Convention and Visitor Bureau Member businesses and events.

Peoria, Illinois: An All-America City

PEORIA, IL—It’s time to be proud Peoria!

Our city was given the prestigious honor of being one of ten cities named as an “All-America City” in 2013. The National Civic League awards were presented last night in Denver, Co., where 20 finalist cities waited anxiously to hear their name called.

As if the tension wasn’t high enough, the speaker had gone through nine of the ten winners without naming Peoria, Ill. As he opened the final all americanenvelope he mentioned a city who has transformed their downtown, a city that has invested in healthcare and a city that has an extremely driven youth organization.

The anticipation continued to rise as the speaker proclaimed, “The All-America City of Peoria, Illinois!”

After many hoots, hollers and cheers, the Young Professional’s Organization of Greater Peoria and other members of the presentation group enthusiastically took to the stage to accept the prestigious award.

Peoria also claimed two more honors last evening. First, the city received the award for best video story for their unique submission focused on the people of Peoria singing “Forever Young” by Rod Stewart. Ethan Mosher, member of the ELITE program, also won the All-America Youth Award.

The members of the presenting group were in Denver throughout the weekend, taking part in different activities and competitions leading up to the awards ceremony. One of the highlight moments was the presentation given to the panel of judges, where representatives explained what a “Block” could do for a city.

The presentation was great, but musicians from Carl Cannon’s ELITE program stole the show, as they drummed their way into the presentation, setting the tone for the next 20 minutes. There’s no question that the judges panel was blown away by the entire Peoria presentation. A standing ovation was given as the group exited the stage; the only ovation of the evening.

For a look at the entire presentation, see the video below.

Again, it’s time to celebrate our city. Be proud Peoria.

WE ARE AN ALL-AMERICA CITY!

Visit the related links below for more information.

Peoria Journal Star: http://www.pjstar.com/news/x1806088405/Peoria-named-of-10-All-America-cities

CI Proud: http://centralillinoisproud.com/fulltext?nxd_id=331692

CI News Now: http://www.cinewsnow.com/home/Peoria-awaits-results-of-All-American-City–211750301.html?skipthumb=Y

NBC News: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/52224146/ns/local_news-peoria_il/t/peoria-awaits-results-all-american-city-award/

Written By: Andrew Ketterer

Wildlife Prairie Park – Kaci’s Places To Play In Peoria

In 1978, something was created in Hanna City, Ill. that has never been matched. Today and 35 years later, Wildlife Prairie Park is still entertaining all kinds of people from the Midwest with the various activities, sites and things to do for all ages.

Recently, our own Kaci Osborne headed out to the park to speak with the Director of Development, Molly Waller, and see what all of the hype was about. From the beginning, Kaci started to understand why the park has lasted 35 years. “When a visitor comes to Wildlife Prairie Park, there is so much to do,” says Waller. “We have a really nice map, and that map will take you through our wildlife native zoo.”

WPP_Adventure_Map_042713

Usually, when you hear “zoo” you think of caged animals, but don’t get that idea at Wildlife Prairie Park! Molly explains, “These animals are native to Illinois and they are living in their natural habitat through enclosures in our park.”

Don’t settle for just observing the animals. Along with the viewing areas, Wildlife Prairie Park offers free daily programs that allow visitors to ask questions. This kind of interaction with the staff allows visitors to understand the stories behind the animals that are featured at the park.

Schoolhouse 01 [Kevin May]

Besides the animals,Wildlife Prairie Park features the preservation of our national heritage. The Pioneer area includes multiple buildings that replicate our history, including an old schoolhouse.

If you’re looking for a nice and relaxing tour of the entire park, they offer train rides that circle through the entire landscape. While you’re waiting for the train to pick you up, don’t forget to check out the small train museum located just off the tracks.

The park has also recently installed several biking trails for people looking to explore while building up a sweat. Along the same lines, there are five fishing lakes on the property with six different kinds of fish. So don’t forget your poles!

And whatever you do, don’t forget to ride the giant slide!

As Kaci says perfectly, “From mountain biking to mountain lions, Wildlife Prairie Park really has a little bit of everything!”

 

Upcoming Events at Wildlife Prairie Park

Junior Girl Scout Badge Day – June 15

Father’s Day Brunch – June 16

Olde English Fair – June 21-23

 

This is part of the Kaci’s Places to Play in Peoria YouTube series. Please check out Peoria Area CVB Media Page for more videos from Kaci!

 

Written By: Andrew Ketterer

What’s “Playing in Peoria?” – June 13

As always, there’s plenty going on in the Peoria, Illinois area to keep you busy, but just in case any of you out there don’t know, Sunday is Father’s Day (you’re welcome to everyone who just went running to the card store). So this weekend, I am highlighting a few places and events your dad will enjoy. A present is always nice, but what every dad really wants is to spend some time with his children and loved ones. So, here are a few ideas to keep the family busy this weekend.

Tim Sheets_SpiritofPeoria

Spirit of Peoria Moonlight Cruise: On Friday night, the famous Peoria paddle boat is offering their “Moonlight Cruise” from 8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. This cruise is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the Peoria skyline by light of the moon. A ticket for this cruise gets you live entertainment for the evening and a cash bar will be available as well. Although this may not be the typical father-and-son bonding event, it is perfect for a mother, wife or girlfriend trying to give a special thanks to their significant other. So go ahead, buy your ticket for the cruise and surprise a father with a special date and a couple hours away from the kids. If you need a better look at the Spirit, check out the recent Kaci’s Places to Play video where she climbs aboard the boat for an interview with the captain.

Steamboat Days Festival:  The 42nd annual Steamboat Days Festival is back on the Peoria Riverfront this weekend. From Thursday to Saturday, there will be carnival rides, food, entertainment, live music and a family-friendly atmosphere. This festival is the perfect place for a family to spend some time together while enjoying the nice weather. If dad likes live music, head over to the CEFCU Center Stage. If he’s an adrenaline junkie, the carnival rides are sure to force out a couple of screams. Even if your dad just enjoys spending some time with the family, the festival is perfect!

NSA State Championships: If your dad is a big sports fan, then heading out to EastSide Centre might be your best option this weekend. Starting on Friday, 53 fast pitch softball teams in five divisions will face off for the state championship. Each champion moves on to play in the National Softball Association’s Class A World Series. Admission for the weekend is free to the public and gives you an opportunity to enjoy some sports action with your dad.

Father’s Day at the Zoo: On Sunday, all fathers will receive FREE admission to the Peoria Zoo when they bring their family. The current displays at the zoo include Africa, Asia and Australia, showing off animals including rhinos, lions, giraffes, tigers, emus and black swans. For an extra special experience, be sure to check the schedule for a guided zoo tour. Each of these tours includes a 45-minute class on the topic of your choice, along with an hour and a half tour through the entire zoo. The tour only costs $7 per child and that includes zoo admission! Do something different for Father’s Day and take him to the zoo!

Father’s Day Cookout at Wildlife Prairie Park: On Sunday, the park will be offering a Father’s Day cookout to everyone in attendance. This cookout runs from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and features brats, burgers, dogs, corn on the cob and more. This would be a great place to take your dad for some outdoor activities with the family. So come check out the animals, mountain biking trails and five fishing lakes and give your dad a Father’s Day to remember. For a deeper look, take a peek at the recent Kaci’s Places to Play video where she takes a trip through the park.

Concert at the Vineyard – Biscuits and Gravy Band: Take your dad back to his glory days where he rocked long hair, ripped jeans and thought he was some sort of rock n’ roll star. On Saturday, Mackinaw Valley Vineyard is hosting Biscuits and Gravy Band, who is known for their impeccable covers of 70’s and 80’s classic rock. Bring your lawn chairs or reserve deck seating for $5 per person. Now, I’m not saying your dad is going to turn into Jimmy Page or Freddie Mercury, but let him take a trip back onto that rock n’ roll train. What better Father’s Day gift could you give him?

However you decide to spend your weekend, make sure to take a couple minutes out of your day to thank your fathers and father-like figures for everything they’ve done for you!

fathers day

As always, stay busy Peoria and keep it here for news on everything “Playing in Peoria!”

Written By: Andrew Ketterer

This post is part of a weekly series that is designed to promote a weekly schedule of Peoria Area Convention and Visitor Bureau Member businesses and events.