Officials from Illinois Office of Tourism stopped in Peoria to introduce its new marketing campaign that features local glass maker Hiram Toraason.
Toraason makes and sells his glass wares out of a rehabbed 1930s machine shop on Evans St. The short video shows Toraason forming colored molten glass into whimsical sculptures and vases, while his voiceover narrates his passion for the craft.
Illinois Tourism Director Cory Jobe says the idea was inspired by trends shaping the tourism industry, primarily driven by millennials.
“They want to get in the car and they want to experience the real America, and the real America is being driven by these makers, these entrepreneurs who are so passionate and call Illinois and the Peoria area home,” Jobe said.
Toraason is an Illinois native, but he says living abroad in Costa Rica made him love his home state even more.
“Leaving Illinois makes you appreciate Illinois when you come back, and you might not appreciate everything Peoria has to offer until you leave it and come back,” Toraason said.
Toraason says Illinois Made helps craftspeople get exposure while connecting visitors to lesser-known sites downstate.
The Office of Tourism also plans to include the Peoria-area businesses JK Williams Distilling and Thirty-Thirty Coffee in the campaign, Jobe said. To be considered for Illinois Made, artists’ work must be 100-percent made-in-Illinois and available as point-of-sale for visitors.
Jobe added, there’s also an interactive map on the Illinois Made website to connect visitors to more conventional tourist stops, like museums and landmarks.