Playing in Peoria

The old expression “Will it Play in Peoria?” first referenced Burlesque acts performing in Peoria while on the circuit.  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 said to be made famous by Groucho Marx in his movies. 

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

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

While the term is now not relevant any more, it remains as the way most people in the US have heard of the city if not from the area.  And although characteristics of the area have changed over the years, Peoria is still a typical Midwestern town.  Find area events and entertainment details on the calendar.