Entertainment on the Spirit of Peoria

The Spirit of Peoria features many of the area’s greatest entertainers. We have musicians, storytellers, actors, and more. Read below about some of our “Regulars”!


Brian “Fox” Ellis


Since 1980 Brian "Fox" Ellis has been touring the world as a performer and educator. Through stories and song, myth and poetry, Fox brings the world to your school, library, festival or conference. He is a dynamic teller who, in a warmly entertaining manner, captures what is most life-affirming and beautiful in the human experience.

Fox believes that within each of us is a story to tell. One of his goals is to awaken the tale teller in all of us. He is a keynote speaker and master teacher who provides workshops for students, teachers, parents, clergy and naturalists.


His “Adventures in Nature” celebrate our relationships with all of creation. His renditions of international folktales evoke a deeper understanding of other cultures. Fox’s retelling of American Indian tales enriches the listener with the wit and wisdom of his elders. He brings to life the history of America through the voices of presidents and slaves, farmers and factory workers.

Fox is the author of nine books including, The WEB at Dragonfly Pond. He also writes for more than a dozen magazines. As a working writer he sheds new light on the writing process helping students to find their own voice.


Barry Cloyd


Barry Cloyd is a Midwestern based, touring singer/songwriter who has spent a lifetime creating a performance style that weaves the genres of Celtic, Blues, Folk and Roots music into a unique blend all his own. A strong vocalist and multi-instrumentalist as well as a storyteller, theatrical performer and historian, Barry delivers his music on a multitude of instruments, His stories of travels and history of the songs that he sings provide an added dimension to his performances.

Barry is also the founder of the band “Celtricity”, a fusion group that weaves together the genres of Celtic, Blues, World and Original music. He is also a founding member of Prairie Folklore Theatre.

Barry provides a wide range of literacy focused, curriculum based classroom/performance programs that bring his music and his study of history together.


His first CD release "The Wind and the Water" features all original music and some of Nashville's finest session musicians. The follow-up CD’s, are “After the Storm”, a Celtic/Americana piece and “Yuletide Fire”, an acoustic Christmas CD. Barry Cloyd is a member of the Illinois Arts Council ArtsTour Roster and a part of the musical selection panel for this juried group of artists. Recently, Barry was honored by being chosen to perform in Chicago’s Downtown Millenium Park as part of the series, “Great Performers of Illinois.”

Barry is also a collector of antique guitars and offers a wide range of guitars and other instruments on e-bay.


Ken Bradbury


Ken Bradbury is a resident of Arenzville, Illinois. A retired teacher from Triopia High School after 37 years of service, Ken now teaches at Lincoln Land Community College. Since 1995, he has been named the most-produced author of school speech contest material in the United States, his material having won top honors in nearly all fifty states and Puerto Rico, as his name has appeared in more contests than any other author.

Ken is the author of The Coonridge Digest, a newspaper column which has won the Associated Press Award for “Best Humor Column.” The column appears in nine newspapers in Illinois and Missouri. He’s also the author of four books, The Coonridge Digest, Around the World with Freida Marie Crump, The Coonridge Devotions, and Homerville.

He’s written music for five recordings by Shiloh, a Christian singing group, and is a founder and director of the Green Pastures Performing Arts Camp. The author of over 100 plays and musicals, he and co-author Robert Crowe recently won the Lincoln Library Award for the play, The Shadow of Giants which appeared on Public Television. Their newest play, Why Spot Ran, premiered last year in San Diego. He was the winner of the Downstate Playwrights Award at the University of Illinois in 1998. In 2000 his work, Cries of Faith was performed at Illinois College and the University of Illinois.


He’s the winner of the Country Companies and Channel 20 Golden Apple Award for teaching, the Western Illinois University “Friend of the Arts” award, the Illinois College Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, the Illinois College McGaw Citation of Excellence in the Arts, and was named “Outstanding High School Teacher” by Eastern Illinois University. Ken was recently awarded the honorary Doctor of fine Arts by MacMurray College in Jacksonville, the honorary Doctor of Letters by Illinois College, and was inducted into the Jacksonville hall of Fame. In 2004 he was awarded the Studs Terkel Humanities Award by the Illinois Arts Council. He also plays the bagpipes, much to the chagrin of his Arenzville neighbors.


Bob Anton, a.k.a. “Mark Twain”


Bob Anton retired from Peoria Public School District 150 was captain of the Spirit of Peoria from 1988 to 1993 as well as captain on the Julia Belle Swain.

Former Julia Belle Swain owner and Captain, Dennis Trone (who died in 2008 in a plane crash) got him started as a Mark Twain impersonator.


Trone said of Anton, “You know, you look a lot like Mark Twain.” He found Anton a white suit and he has now been doing Twain since the late 1970s.