What’s “Playing in Peoria?” – July 31

Written By: Andrew Ketterer

Let me tell you, there’s a ton of stuff going on in the Peoria Area this weekend. And if you’re a music fan, there’s even more! The weather has cooled off for now and the highs aren’t supposed to get past the mid 80’s all weekend, so it’s the perfect timing for a few outdoor concerts, and that’s just what greater Peoria has in store for you!

Here is a quick overview of a few bands that will be “Playing in Peoria” in the next few days. Get out and support the area’s exciting music community!

Tower Park Music Fest: If you think Peoria Heights isn’t big enough for anything worth checking out, you’re dead wrong. The Heights is hosting the 8th Annual Tower Park Music Fest on Friday and Saturday in Tower Park. (You know… the place with the big red outlook thing.) The music gets underway on Friday at 5 p.m. and is scheduled to last until around 11 p.m. On Saturday, the musicians hit the stage at 1 p.m. and continue into the night. The main acts each night include Paige and the Reverent Few and DriveTrain featuring Nick Boettcher. Come on out and support our local bands!3f66cb9095a8248e6f901b084fa9d9d9

4&20 at CEFCU Center Stage: If you’re looking to take a trip back in time to the heyday of the Woodstock Generation, then this Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young tribute band is just for you. The arrangements, harmonies and intricate guitar tunings are accurately performed by this amazing group of musicians that have managed to create quite an experience. Come check them out on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

Heartache Tonight at CEFCU Center Stage: Okay, I understand that there are probably thousands of other Eagles tribute bands (and I’ve had some rough experiences), but this band is the real deal. There are no pre-recorded backing tracks during this performance. All of the vocal harmonies and guitar parts are played as they should be—live. This is an opportunity for a concert experience that will take you back to one of the most notable rock bands of all time!

United Groove Theory – Concert at the Vineyard: Anytime I hear that a band’s only purpose is to have the dance floor packed and moving all night long, they have my attention! On Saturday night at 7 p.m. they’re bringing this philosophy to Mackinaw Valley Vineyard and Winery. Feel free to bring lawn chairs and food or call to reserve a spot on their deck. Wine tasting, beer, sodas, pizzas and more will be sold at the event. So get out to Mackinaw for an awesome night and some funky music!

Along with the many musical acts this weekend, there are also other events going on in the area including:

Peoria Riverfront Museum’s “Science Rocks!”
2013 16B Northern National Softball Tournament
Peoria Chiefs
Bratfest at Hickory Grove Park
Vintage Vines and Wines
 

Or browse our full CALENDAR OF EVENTS!

Be sure to enjoy the local music scene this weekend! And as always, stay busy and keep it here for news on everything “Playing in Peoria!”

 

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

Written By: Andrew Ketterer

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Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette

Continued Momentum for Downtown Peoria

Written By: Andrew Ketterer

Rarely is there a business reopening that is as jaw-dropping as what the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette has given visitors in Central Illinois. After being closed for renovations for over a year, the Pere Marquette spectacularly reopened its doors to the public on Friday, June 28th.

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A view into the upscale bar in the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette.

This event signaled the first of two openings on this specific downtown block. The Pere Marquette served as $44 million of a $93 million project that includes a 10-story, 116-room Marriott Courtyard next door. These two hotels will also connect to a brand new, environmentally-controlled sky-walk that leads directly to the Peoria Civic Center.

Peoria officials and citizens hope that this development will transform downtown Peoria, providing job opportunities, parking, retail space and easy access to the Peoria Civic Center.

All of this will be crucial for bringing visitors to the Peoria Area, according to Amy Hawkins, director of sales for the hotel. “The Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette will offer meeting planners, along with business and leisure travelers, premier accommodations in the center of our vibrant city,” says Hawkins. “We couldn’t be more excited to work with the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (PACVB) and the Peoria Civic Center!”

The reopening of the Pere Marquette is just another step toward renovating and updating the downtown Peoria area to attract visitors of all kinds. Already completed face lifts include the Peoria Riverfront Museum and the Caterpillar Visitors Center, which make up a recently developed area on the riverfront that had been vacant for over 10 years—“The Block.”

According to their website, the Peoria Riverfront Museum’s focus is to become “an extension of the classroom—engaging the community, empowering teachers, exciting and educating students, and attracting visitors from near and far.” The museum features many types of exhibits including art, sports and Peoria’s history. A Giant Screen Theatre is also featured, giving visitors a chance to catch the newest releases or educational films. Along with the jaw-dropping theater, the museum touts the Ziess Powerdome Planetarium, which features a digital projection system that displays more than 7,000 stars onto a domed ceiling that seems to stretch for infinity. The system is also capable of presenting full-dome video shows on various topics. This publicly and privately funded museum was opened in the Fall of 2012.

Alongside the new museum, the Caterpillar Visitors Center acts as an anchor in the ground for Caterpillar in Peoria. The state-of-the-art facility displays Caterpillar’s equipment and its storied history for residents and visitors in the area. One of the feature exhibits is a theater built directly into the truck bed of a replica Caterpillar 797 Mining Truck.

The combination of the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette and “The Block” represents a few of the successful updates to the downtown Peoria area, likely leading to an increase in business and leisure travelers.

“This is a very exciting time for Peoria,” says Don Welch, CEO and President of the Peoria Area CVB. “The addition of the Peoria Marriot Pere Marquette, along with the opening of the Peoria Riverfront Museum and Caterpillar Visitors Center, will have a significant impact on tourism to the area, and will also enhance the ability to attract conventions, meetings and sporting events to the area.”

Along with these completed projects in Peoria, the city understands the need to continue momentum that has already been generated. The city has begun road construction as part of the $31.8 million and two year overhaul of the Peoria Warehouse District in downtown Peoria. The project’s focus is to attract the young professional demographic using a combination of retail and living space, providing them with an urban environment, in which to live.

Even more momentum was gained when Caterpillar, Inc., a Fortune-50 Company, placed another future stake in the ground. They have recently announced plans to build a brand new world headquarters in the central area of downtown Peoria. This would likely take up a few city blocks and would again have a tremendous economic impact on the city. Details of the plans will be released soon, according to Doug Oberhelman, CEO of Caterpillar, who spoke at the ribbon cutting for the Pere Marquette.

Peoria Mayor, Jim Ardis, also spoke at the ceremony. And according to the Peoria Journal Star, Mayor Ardis said, “It’s been a long process—but absolutely worth it. We knew what (Marriott) would do for the face of Downtown.” Ardis continued enthusiastically, “Combine this with the new Caterpillar, Inc. headquarters, the development of the Warehouse District and the puzzle pieces start to come into place!”

Although the puzzle pieces are just now starting to come together, Peoria’s downtown renovations have already been nationally recognized. On Sunday, June 16, Peoria was announced as one of 10 cities to be named an All-America City by the National Civic League.

The entire process was fronted by the Young Professionals of Greater Peoria (YPGP). This group traveled to Denver, Co. for a few days to present to the National Civic League board, along with 19 other finalist cities. Throughout the entire process, the theme “Forever Young” was used as a tribute to the rebirth of downtown Peoria, as well as the YPGP who led the All-America City campaign.

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Peoria Mayor, Jim Ardis, proudly accepts the road sign proclaiming Peoria an All-America City.

Shortly following the acceptance of this prestigious award, a press conference was held on the Peoria Riverfront where the YPGP presented Mayor Ardis with a road sign reading, “Welcome to Peoria: All-America City.” Every single speaker who approached the podium spoke about what the prestigious award means to the future of the city, specifically what it will do to attract businesses, tourists and young talent.

The Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette is just one more giant step towards creating one of the most unique and attractive downtown areas in the state of Illinois.

And when combining the momentum of the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette, Peoria Riverfront Museum, Caterpillar Visitors Center, Peoria Warehouse District, Caterpillar’s World Headquarters and the All-America City Award to the already cultured and local feel of downtown Peoria, it’s easy to see why the future is so bright in Central Illinois and the city that is “Forever Young.”

Written By: Andrew Ketterer

 

Peoria Riverfront Museum – Kaci’s Places to Play in Peoria

Written By: Andrew Ketterer

Our own Kaci Osborne headed down “The Block” this week to take a closer look at one of the newest attractions in the Peoria Area. The Peoria Riverfront Museum was opened in October of 2012 and is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute, containing galleries featuring art, science, history and achievement.

Luckily enough, Kaci was able to spend some time talking to Nikki Cole, Vice President of Development, about everything that is on display at the Museum.

A young visitor tests his reaction time in the IHSA Peak Performance gallery.

A young athlete tests his reaction time in the IHSA Peak Performance gallery.

One of the most popular galleries at the Peoria Riverfront Museum is the IHSA Peak Performance gallery, where everyone has a chance to test their skills, from jumping ability to balance. “One of the favorite things about this gallery is the amount of inter-generational playtime that you see,” says Cole. “We have grand-kids testing their skills against grandma and grandpa, and mom and dad.”

Discovery Worlds is another popular gallery that is dedicated to the youngest of visitors and their development. It is split into two areas based on age and learning ability of the children the exhibit is serving.

The Illinois River Encounter is dedicated to the Illinois River. Previous to the museum, there wasn’t anywhere to go to learn about the Illinois River, so the museum has given visitors that opportunity. “What’s great is that the gallery itself is really divided in two. One part talks about the working functions of the river and the other talks about the ecology, biology and living on the river.”

Of course, the museum offers educational films during the day and the Hollywood films at night on their Giant Screen Theater, which I had the pleasure of visiting earlier about it this month. The screen is the largest in downstate Illinois and the brightest screen IN THE WORLD! Read about my experience!

Lastly, the Dome Planetarium, one of the museums signature pieces. The state-of-the-art system gives viewers a completely new look at the night’s sky. It’s so amazing that Nikki says, “You can actually go into our planetarium, bring in binoculars and see more details of stars through your binoculars than you can see with your naked eye!”

Other exhibits at the museum include The StreetCollections Gallery and the International Feature Gallery.

Don’t forget to stop in at the Museum Store when you’re done with your visit. They have a little bit of everything from umbrellas to wearables.

As Kaci says, “There’s so much to see and do here at the museum. You guys have got to come check this out for yourself!”

Don’t forget to stick around at the end of the video for to hear why Kaci has a strong hate for the word “Smithsonian.”

 

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

What’s “Playing in Peoria?” – July 24

Written By: Andrew Ketterer
 

Peoria, IL was named an All-America City just over a month ago and has gotten a lot of press for it. Ironically, the upcoming weekend seems to have a similar theme! What’s more “American” than baseball, softball, cars, rock ‘n’ roll and some smoky BBQ?

Exactly! Below are a few events that will keep you in the “American” spirit all weekend!

Peoria Chiefs: The Chiefs will kick off a three-game series against the Kane County Cougars (Chicago Cubs) on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Fireworks will follow the final out. On Sunday, kids 12 and under will receive a free ticket for the game that starts at 5:00 p.m. Monday’s game includes the “Markdown Monday” promotion and starts at 7:00 p.m. We recently posted an article on The Peoria Chiefs Experience, so come on down and check it out for yourself!P__32AE

2013 NSA “B” World Series: Over 4,000 athletes have converged on the Peoria Area for this major softball tournament. There are seven age divisions ranging from 8-23 years old. Six locations will be utilized throughout the weekend including EastSide Centre, Birchwood Park, Medina Township Park, Avanti’s Dome, Dragon Dome and Shute School. Get out and support one of the largest events in the Peoria Area this summer.

Morton BBQ Throwdown: If you’re looking for some good eats, head out to Downtown Morton Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. or Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Buying a $5 ticket gives you the opportunity to taste the best BBQ from over 40 teams and participate in the “People’s Choice” competition for best pulled pork. Live music will be featured all weekend, as Midnight Special, Jury’s Out, Mister Sister and JammSammich are all slated to perform throughout the weekend.

Pekin Main Street Super Cruise and Bike Night: Stop by Downtown Pekin on July 26th for the “Phat Jax Bike Rally Night” from 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. Food vendors, merchandise, live music and custom bikes by Phat Jax will make this a Friday night to remember. If that’s not enough muscle for you, head back down on Saturday from 1 p.m. – 8 p.m. for the Downtown Super Cruise that will feature hundreds of cars, trucks and bikes. Sounds like a nice weekend for you bike and car lovers out there!

JammSammich: This popular band is headed back to the Peoria Riverfront on Friday at 7:30 p.m. They specialize in Top 40 dance music, a mixture of funky 70’s tunes, 80’s retro, R&B, quirky modern rock, island-flavored jams and classic rock. In other words, it’s guaranteed that the band will play something you like throughout the night. So head down to the riverfront and find out why this band has such a committed following!

Keep it All-American this weekend! And as always, stay busy and keep it here for news on everything “Playing in Peoria!”

 

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

The Peoria Chiefs Experience

Written By: Andrew Ketterer
 

Similar to each summer, there is an overwhelming amount of events and festivals going on throughout the Peoria Area. There are many local events that don’t get as much play, either because people don’t know about them or don’t give them a chance. But there’s also a few larger and more popular things happening in Peoria that people aren’t trying.

The Peoria Chiefs have called Peoria home for over 30 years and have been playing at Dozer Park for more than 10 years, but somehow I think the minor league franchise is still overlooked in the area.

It’s mind-boggling. Really!photo

Last Thursday, I headed to Dozer Park with a group of friends for my second Chiefs game of the summer. We specifically chose Thursday to take advantage of one of the most popular promotions that the Chiefs run—Dollar Beer Night. One of our best friends is leaving town soon and we figured that this would be the best version of a going away party.

Our group gravitated towards a picnic table area located down the left field line. There were two or three tables that we thought would be perfect for the group for a couple of reasons. First, because it just so happened to be 95 degrees outside and the tables were in a shaded area. And second, but certainly not least, the location left us conveniently 20-30 steps away from the beer lady at the concession stand.

As we all ordered our first round of beers, there was something rewarding about only handing the employee $1, considering the ridiculously-priced EVERYTHING at most ball parks these days.

But that low price didn’t just apply to the beer. It’s something that’s common at Dozer Park. The organization wants to make their events affordable for all families and they’re doing a great job! Ticket prices are tiered based on whether you’d like a box seat or a ticket for the grassy areas down each baseline, which is what our group decided to buy. Either way, the ticket prices are lower than most professional sports games.

As the game moved into the fourth inning and a few cold beers had been finished, we all decided it was time for some food. For whatever reason, it seemed like a good idea for each of us to get the “chili-cheese nachos.” Each one of us laughed as the employee handed us the five pound mixture of chips, chili and cheese. I’m not sure any of us finished the meal, but we all were surprised when it cost us under $5!

I mean come on, a meal and a few beers for under $10? It’s no wonder there were busloads of 20- and 30-year-old fans in attendance.

The argument for staying clear of Dozer Park because you’re not a baseball fan doesn’t hold any water anymore either. Throughout the entire game there are giveaways, races and competitions that involve the fans and keep everyone interested.

Our favorite non-baseball event involved two contestants bending over while placing their foreheads on a bat and spinning around ten times. After the contestants were nice and dizzy, they were instructed to sprint about 90 ft. to the finish line. I’ll just let you use your imagination for the craziness that followed, as the contestants swerved and stumbled their way to the checkered flag.

As the game entered the ninth inning the Chiefs were down by a run and ended up losing, which was somewhat disappointing, but what we all realized was that Chiefs games are about more than just watching a baseball game. The organization’s focus seems to be on turning the night into an experience.

As we exited the stadium, you could hear the fans discussing everything that happened at the game, from the “dizzy bat race” to the incredible one handed grab made by a fan on a foul ball. Again, so many things going on that didn’t even involve the game.

And all for under $20.

Caterpillar Visitors Center – Kaci’s Places to Play in Peoria

Recently, our own Kaci Osborne visited one of the newest attractions in downtown PeoriaCaterpillar Visitors Center. Luckily, Kathryn Spitznagle, manager of the facility, was able to take some time to talk with Kaci about some of things going on at the visitors center.

According to Kathryn, this state-of-the-art facility was already in the works about 10 years ago, but it really started gaining momentum three years ago before its opening in October of 2012.

She continued, saying that Caterpillar opened the center for three specific reasons. First, for the retirees and employees, because often times employees aren’t able to ever see the final product in all its glory. Second, for the regional community that has supported Caterpillar. Lastly and most importantly, the center was opened for the customers who, according to Kathryn, “are the ones that make progress possible.”

The most popular exhibit is the theater that sits in the bed of the largest mechanical mining truck in the world—797 Mining Truck. The theater features 60 rumble seats that shake and bounce visitors through mining sites located all over the world!

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Photograph taken by Kevin May

The visitors center also features equipment simulators that give people a chance to operate equipment, four theaters, interactive displays and virtual technology.

The Caterpillar Visitors Center rotates the exhibits and equipment approximately every 10 months and the galleries change every three-four months. So if the last time you visited was when it first opened, you should come back and see the new exhibits and pieces of equipment on display.

And before you leave, Kathryn says you must make a stop at the CAT Merchandise Center! It’s one of the largest gift shops in the area and was recognized by Enjoy Illinois as one of the top-5 gift shops in the state.

As Kaci does for most of her videos, she summed everything up perfectly in one sentence. “From earth movers to seat shakers, the Caterpillar Visitors Center is something you’ve got to see to believe!”

 

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

Written By: Andrew Ketterer

What’s “Playing in Peoria?” – July 17

The middle of July is here and the window for fitting in your exciting summer activities is slowly closing. It’s my goal to motivate you to get out of your comfort zone and enjoy all that the Peoria area has to offer before it’s too late! So, I’m going to keep giving it my best shot to get you out-and-about.

There are a couple big events this weekend, along with a couple that may normally slide under your radar, but again, that’s why I’m here.

Peoria Chiefs: The Chiefs will host the South Bend Silver Hawks (Arizona Diamondbacks) in a three game series that ends Friday, July 19. After sweeping the Silver Hawks (crossed fingers), the Chiefs will welcome the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers) into town for another three-game series that kicks off on Saturday. Promotions for the weekend include “Flat Screen Friday,” “Jimmy Buffet Night,” a Boat Drunks concert and a poster giveaway. It looks like the weather will cooperate all weekend, so get out to Dozer Park and enjoy some professional baseball!

Live Music: Just like most weekends so far this summer, the area is hopping with live music! Here are a few shows I’d suggest getting out to if CEFCU667you like having a cold one and catching some tunes.

Canned Heat will play CEFCU Center Stage on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Their unique blend of modern electric blues, rock and boogie has earned them a loyal following and influenced many aspiring musicians. They’re list of hits include “On the Road Again,” “Let’s Work Together,” and “Going Up The Country.”

Mike and Joe will take the stage on Saturday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m. This college town favorite is one of the most watched cover bands in the Midwest. They’ve been known to play some Filter, Goo Goo Dolls, Dave Matthews Band and more. If you want to party on the riverfront, this is the band to come see!

JammSammich will also be playing on Saturday night, but at Mackinaw Valley Vineyard and Winery at 7:00 p.m. This band has earned a reputation with the locals as one of the best classic rock bands around. They’ve been known to pack the dance floor and give listeners the “ultimate good time.” Bring a lawn chair and some snacks out Mackinaw and enjoy some of that classic rock n’ roll.

Heart of Illinois Fair: The fair continues through this weekend with livestock shows, competitive exhibits, carnival rides, games, demo derbies, and truck and tractor pulls. No matter who you are or what you’re interested in, there’s something for you at the fair. So head out to Expo Gardens this weekend and experience it for yourself.

National Softball Association (NSA) “B” Northern Fast Pitch World Series: This softball tournament brings in over 4,000 athletes to compete for six days at five different locations including EastSide Centre (East Peoria), Birchwood Park (Morton), Medina Township Park (Mossville), Avanti’s Dome (Pekin), and Shute School (East Peoria). An opening ceremony celebration will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Monday at CEFCU Center Stage along the Peoria riverfront. The tournament begins on Tuesday, with games at each location beginning at 8:00 a.m. Check out nsanorth.com for more scheduling information.

NSA Itinerary Flyer_FINAL

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 Visitors Bureau Member businesses and events.