Originally published in Peoria Magazines, March 2019
Photos by Jeff Noble
This healthcare entrepreneur—equal parts free-market throwback and can-do visionary—is putting his money where his mouth is. For starters, the Betty Jayne Brimmer Center for the Performing Arts—the former Kelly Avenue Library—had its grand opening on February 2, 2019, with an eight-band concert that doubled as a fundraiser for local music education efforts. It was a kickoff true to what Blickenstaff foresees as the facility’s mission.
“I knew it was going to work as a community center” when he first planted eyes on it, he says. He envisions regular concerts, dinner theater, film presentations, soapbox lecture events, karaoke nights, etc.—a cultural gathering place, inside and out, when the weather is accommodating.
This initial development is also an example of how family informs and inspires Blickenstaff. He speaks with great pride and affection about the mother whose name adorns the building—the woman whose pre-marriage-and-family entertainment career included a prominent role in the Benny and Betty Fox performance troupe as “the world’s most beautiful acrobatic dancer.” Her photo hangs just inside the doorway.