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Peoria Park-A-Palooza festival returns for a 2nd year. Here's what to know

From left to right: Peoria Park Board trustee Laurie Covington,
Tim Shelley
From left to right: Peoria Park Board trustee Laurie Covington, Park District Executive Director Emily Cahill, Park Board President Robert Johnson, state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, and Park Board trustee Joyce Harant hold a press conference April 8, 2024 at the Gateway Building to announce the second Park-A-Palooza Festival.

Park-A-Palooza is coming back for round two this June on Peoria's Riverfront, but a lot is changing.

This year's event will feature a mobile ninja obstacle course, a soda pop tasting festival, and live performances from Joe Nichols and the Stone Cold Cowboys, and Everclear. Last year's popular 300-drone light show will also make a reprise appearance.

Peoria Park District Executive Director Emily Cahill said these events are about people having fun, but it's also more than that.

"The conversations that people have around these kinds of events are something that we always love to be a part of. It changes people's perspective," she said. "It changes their attitudes, and it was a really good shot in the arm for Peoria. And I look forward to seeing what the second year looks like and beyond."

The festival is funded by an annual grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, helped secure the funds. She said she was moved to tears at one point during last year's event.

"It was so diverse. There was no drama, no issues. It looked like a melting pot spread out all over that grass. People from every corner of this community and beyond," Gordon-Booth said. "And I just looked at President (Robert) Johnson, I looked at Emily, I looked at all the kids and the families and just the folks who were enjoying themselves that it moves me to tears because this community deserves nice things."

Cahill says last year's inaugural Park-A-Palooza attracted between 12,000 to 15,000 people and generated a half million dollars of economic impact for the community. The park district hopes tourists from Bloomington, Springfield, and other communities within a 90-minute radius are among the attendees.

This year's event is June 6-8. Tickets go on sale later this month.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.