Three Washingtonians participate in local Amazing Race

Christina Smith

After hearing about last year’s Peoria Area Amazing Race, based on the popular CBS show “The Amazing Race,” two friends applied for this year’s event, which takes place tomorrow and kicks off at East Peoria’s RiverFront Park.

Dustin Ziegler, 28, of Washington, and his best friend, Drew Chitwood, 29, of Bartonville, were chosen for the community team.

“We both watched the television show and thought it sounded like a good time and something fun to do,” Ziegler said.

“I have lived in the Peoria area all my life, but I know there are several places around here that I haven’t been to, and I thought this would be a good chance to see some of those places,” Chitwood said.

Ziegler and Chitwood sent in a video and an application form to participate in the event.

“It was pretty surprising,” Ziegler said about being chosen for the race.

How it works

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., four teams will try to solve clues using a copy of the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s visitors guide to figure out their next destination.

While last year’s teams started at the Peoria Riverfront, this year’s participants will start at RiverFront Park in East Peoria.

“We cover an eight-county region and want to change locations for the event each year,” Ashley Chitwood, tourism and special projects manager for the convention and visitor’s bureau, said. “The Peoria and East Peoria riverfronts are a nice central location.”

Ashley said the event started last year as a way for the Peoria bureau to highlight local attractions during National Tourism Week, May 10-18, whose purpose is to educate the community about the positive influence tourism has on a region.

“We tried to pick destinations that people might not hear about all the time,” Ashley said.

The three remaining teams are: Pam Marcoline-Griffith, a Washington Middle School teacher, and her partner, Dawn Dalfonso, another Washington Middle School teacher; Kevin McGuire, a Fulton County convention and visitor’s bureau representative, and his partner, JoAnne Skogland, a Mason County representative; and Greg Batton, from WMBD radio, and his partner, Ed Hammond, a WMBD reporter.

Each team receives a gift bag from the region, which includes a variety of items from the places visited during the race.

Last year, the winning team received a free night stay at a bed and breakfast in Henry, Ashley said.

“With gas prices increasing, the race can help people realize they can visit some of these sites a few counties away for their vacation, instead of traveling to another state,” Ashley said.

Although the race’s popularity led some bureau members to discuss expanding it to more teams, Ashley said keeping the race small allows the bureau to provide everything free.

“Finish Line Ford donates four vehicles for the teams to use during the race and we might not be able to provide vehicles if more teams participated,” Ashley said.

This year, Jill’s On Galena in Peoria is providing lunch for the participants, Ashley added.

While team members will not know their destinations ahead of time, Ashley said a list of locations will be provided to the public and members of the media who chose to visit any of the stops along the race route.

For more information about the event, contact Ashley at 282-3282, or visit the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Web site,

“I think it will be a fun thing,” Chitwood said. “The important thing is to have fun and not take it too seriously.”