Tourism and Tazewell are two words that are generally not used together, but when you take a closer look, they have a lot in common. Tourism is defined as travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. By that definition, Tazewell County has much to offer those in the Tri-County Area and beyond.

The Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau coordinates the promotion of tourism and events throughout our county. Our goal is to keep the PACVB busy by bringing high-quality, fun and interesting events for them to market.

One of my favorite things to do is attend some of the many festivals throughout our county. The Cherry, Pumpkin, Turkey and Marigold festivals are but a few of the many that we celebrate. These events offer fun for every age group and are safe for the entire family. Thousands of people from all over central Illinois and beyond come out to enjoy the food and attractions, culminating in the annual pumpkin launching contest, which brings competitors and tourists from as far away as Delaware.

Sporting events and athletic competitions are another major draw from across the state and the Midwest. Softball tournaments, state baseball finals and soccer competitions come to East Peoria’s Eastside Center, Morton’s soccer fields and the Avanti’s Dome in Pekin. World-class venues, plentiful restaurants and ample hotel space are a few of the many reasons for its popularity and draw.

Another very successful seasonal tourist attraction is the East Peoria Festival of Lights. This annual parade and display brings people and dollars into the central Illinois economy. The Mackinaw Valley Vineyard offers locally-produced, award-winning wine in a beautiful setting to enjoy.

I hesitate to try to list all of Tazewell’s tourist destinations because I know I will miss many jewels. Having said that, we also have the scenic Illinois River, multiple golf courses, Fort Creve Coeur, and the Tazewell County Museum and Learning Center.

Finally, the future opening of the Bass Pro Shops in East Peoria will be a tremendous draw from a large region. This store, and others like it, attracts many outdoor-minded tourists who want to come to our area.

Tourism brings many benefits to our area. First, it brings much-needed jobs and helps our local economy stay strong. Second, the sales tax dollars that are generated help keep our tax rates down and allow local government and business entities to thrive. Lastly, having “things to do” and “places to go” for everyone helps bring stability and quality of life to our region. Many younger people want to stay in an area where they can have fun, and that bodes well for the future of central Illinois.

I invite everyone to “travel Tazewell” and enjoy our many varied and interesting sites. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you find. iBi