Wildlife Prairie Park in Hanna City, Illinois is not your average park. It is home to more than 150 animals native to Illinois, from bison to cougars, and several others in between.
In the 1960s, the founder of the park, William Rutherford, a member of the Forest Park Foundation, received news the Brookfield Zoo was searching for space to raise exotic, endangered animals. The Forest Park Foundation acquired almost 500 acres of land, and with Rutherford’s influence, partnered with the Brookfield Zoo. The land was to be used for environmental and conservation efforts, but after a change of management at the Zoo, plans for the land changed. Visitors can enjoy up-close views of beautiful native deer at the park.
The foundation then decided to use its natural resources for the creation of its own zoological park, and after four years of pioneers bringing many native animals, acquiring several native plants, and a series of construction projects, the land transformed to the park it is today.
To experience the beauty of nature and native animals at Wildlife Prairie Park, visitors can ride the Prairie Zephyr scenic train or the Adventure Trek. The park also has many features of a traditional outdoor park, such as mountain biking trails and fishing at five different lakes.
A visit to Wildlife Prairie Park is an exciting way to learn about the native animals of Illinois and meet a few exotic creatures along the way!
East Peoria Festival of Lights (FOLEPI)
This year, the Annual East Peoria Festival of Lights is celebrating its 33rd anniversary. The festival is a month-long holiday celebration well known in the Great Rivers Country region for its gigantic drive-through light displays. Read more about Peoria here.
The festival’s mascot is a wooden solider named Folepi, which is an acronym for “Festival of Lights, East Peoria, Illinois.”One of the best parts of the event is the weekly challenge. Locals and visitors are given clues to find each week’s hidden Folepi ornament and the winner receives a prize from a local business!
The signature event of the festival is Folepi’s Winter Wonderland, which this year features a new route as well as light displays both on the ground and in the air.
Another element of the festival is the annual Parade of Lights which is covering 3 miles and starts on one side of the city and ends just past downtown Peoria. All floats used in the parade are made of lights with appearances by favorite holiday characters such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman.
The majority of floats used in the parade are placed in the Winter Wonderland along with other luminous displays. Fan favorites sure to bring forth “oohs” and “ahhs” from every spectator are including the 70-ft. long float of the famous Clydesdale horse team pulling a delivery wagon and the 95-ft. long, smoke-spewing Chinese dragon.