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River Charms Revealed

The inaugural Bridge-to-Bridge River Drive festival will take across four Illinois River communities this fall.

by Peoria Magazine |
Bridge-to-Bridge River Drive festival

The inaugural Bridge-to-Bridge River Drive festival will take across four Illinois River communities this fall, showcasing some of the region’s best-kept secrets, as well as the majesty of the natural landscape. Peoria Heights, Chillicothe, Spring Bay and Lacon will offer a range of activities, from concerts and makers markets to a disc golf tournament and airplane rides. And then of course, there’s the scenery.

“We don’t think the Route 29 and Route 26 corridors take a backseat to anyone in the Midwest in terms of the sheer beauty of the countryside here, between the forested bluffs and the reason these communities exist in the first place: the river,” explains event co-founder Jane Johnson. She and Julie Bielfeldt, both members of the Peoria Heights Arts Collaborative, conceived of the 52-mile river loop as a way to introduce (or reintroduce) a side of these communities which might be unfamiliar to visitors.

The concept is also an outgrowth of the Riverview Coalition, a loose affiliation of river communities working together to make their charms a little less hidden. Johnson likens the collaboration to the Spoon River Scenic Drive, “but we’ll have our own unique spin on things,” she adds. The initial effort is being underwritten by entrepreneur and philanthropist Kim Blickenstaff, a native of Spring Bay.

Chillicothe will spread out its events between Three Sisters and Shore Acres parks, its historic Second Street Business District, and destination businesses such as The Mill and Picket Fence. Activities include a craft fair with live music, fishing tournament, and a “Community Games” event including the Ryan Owens Memorial 5K Run, a disc golf tournament and more.

Lacon will be packed with activities ranging from an antique car show and flea market to live music, food trucks and even airplane rides, while Spring Bay will host a fishing benefit, an antique boat show, a pancake breakfast and more. Peoria Heights, in addition to its rich shopping and dining options, will host a fashion show, rummage sale, art fair, a concert featuring Revel in Red, and a brunch with live Irish music at W.E. Sullivan’s Pub.

The schedules are still evolving, so additional events are likely as Bridge-to-Bridge gets closer to showtime. “I think that what people will discover is that there is a real resurgence happening in these communities,” Johnson notes.

The Bridge-to-Bridge River Drive festival takes place on September 18-19, 2021. Follow @B2BRiverDrive on Facebook for the latest updates PM