Playing in Peoria

The old expression “Will it Play in Peoria?” first referenced Vaudevillian acts performing in Peoria while on tour.  It meant that if the act could draw a crowd in Peoria, it would draw a crowd in other cities.  A hub of entertainment in that era along with the city’s countless distilleries made Peoria a popular stop for many acts.  The phrase was apparently made famous by Groucho Marx in his movies. 

As a whiskey town, Peoria was home to many riverboats over the years.  Today, the Spirit of Peoria offers tours along the Illinois river throughout the spring, summer and fall.  Day cruises, multiple day cruises with overnight stays in Illinois river cities as well as themed cruises keep the paddleboat busy throughout the season.

Peoria was also dubbed the “typical Midwestern town”. Many large corporations ran their test marketing in the Peoria area to see if products would be successful before offering the products in other cities.  The demographics of the market were very similar to the ordinary consumer and like Vaudevillian acts, if it sold in Peoria, it was thought to sell well in any market.

While the term is now somewhat dated, it remains as the way most people in the US have heard of the city if not from the area.  And although demographics of the area have changed over the years, Peoria is still a typical Midwestern town.  Find area events and entertainment information on the ExplorePeoria.com calendar.

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