An Array of Attractions Are Now Playing in Peoria

On Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 17:55

An old saying from the vaudeville era asks, “Will it play in Peoria?” The question was meant to determine whether or not a show would do well in Middle America, with Peoria serving as the national test market.

But these days, the answer would be a vehement yes – for theater and beyond.

So let the good times roll.

And why not start at the Wheels O’ Time Museum? Visitors can peek into the past thanks to its odd and interesting collection of antique vehicles, fire trucks, and Caterpillar gear as well as jukeboxes, a player piano and other instruments.

Museums and galleries abound in Peoria, with Lakeview Museum of Arts & Science, Peoria Riverfront Museum and the Contemporary Art Center among the most popular attractions.

Another site to see is the Glen Oak Zoo, filled with all sorts of critters, creatures and creepy-crawlies, such as the curly-hair tarantula, gila monster and two-toed sloth. But there’s even more on the way: A $32.1 million project is currently underway, raising funds to triple the zoo’s size and create natural habitats for new exhibits.

Theater buffs have plenty of options for a night on the town. The Peoria Players are marking their 90th year and will perform <I>One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest</I> and <I>Man of La Mancha</I> in their 2008-2009 season, along with several other shows.

The Corn Stock Theatre, a mere 55 years old, provides workshops for aspiring actors – even the youngest ones – while entertaining with productions such as <I>On Golden Pond</I> and <I>Doubt</I>.

However, some of the best fun can be had at one of the many internationally inspired festivals that dot Peoria’s calendar throughout the year.

Oktoberfest honors German heritage with beer, polka, lederhosen, beer, dirndls and, naturally, more beer each September. There’s also Erin Feis, an Irish and Celtic celebration each August; the Latin American riverfront event Fiesta En El Rio in September; the Jubilee College Olde English Faire, a renaissance festival in June; and the Italian-American Summer Festa Picnic, celebrating its 90th year in August 2009.

No matter what time of year, you’ll always find something cool playing in Peoria.