Community Spotlight: Owensboro, KY
The Watch Communications service area covers parts of Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. The Community Spotlight is an occasional series highlighting interesting places throughout our territory.
Summer is right around the corner, and there may be no better place to celebrate in our service area than Owensboro, KY. Located in Western Kentucky along the Ohio River, the city was founded as Yellow Banks in 1797 before being renamed Owensboro in 1817.
Owensboro kicks summer off each year on the second weekend of May with the International Bar-B-Q Festival. This event features one-of-a-kind BBQ from local restaurants and pitmasters. What makes Owensboro BBQ special? Mutton is the meat of choice in this town and is often served as Burgoo, a local favorite. This year’s festival was scaled down as the Bar-B-Q Block Party to allow people to social distance but still celebrate.
The fun doesn’t stop when the Bar-B-Q festival ends. All summer long, the city hosts Friday After 5, a 16-week festival featuring live music, entertainment, and local food trucks. Friday After 5 lines the riverfront with 7 stages, creating a mile of entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. The best part is these events are free to the public. A full schedule of this summer’s musical guests can be found on their website.
The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum – a must-visit for every bluegrass fan — is in Owensboro. Visitors will learn about the history and cultural impact of bluegrass through its exhibits and can take part in communal elements such as open bluegrass jam sessions. Those wanting to learn to pluck the strings can sign up for music lessons.
The RiverPark Center provides a home for the performing arts in town. The Owensboro Symphony Orchestra hosts diverse musical performances while the Owensboro Dance Theatre showcases three major events each season. Encore! is a community theatre group that produces musicals. Owensboro Public Schools feature a Fine Arts Festival at the RiverPark Center that features the best local talent. RiverPark Canter is also one of the venues for the Friday After 5 concert series.
The city provides educational resources in the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art and the Owensboro Museum of Science and Natural History. The Museum of Fine Art contains a large collection of art that can be seen in person or online via a virtual tour. The Museum of Science and Natural History offers family-friendly educational programs and even an indoor playground.
Speaking of playgrounds, the Lazy Dayz playground located in Smothers Park was named the top playground in the world in 2015 by Landscape Architects Network. The park also features a cascading waterfall that overlooks the Ohio River, along with three other fountains. The Western Kentucky Botanical Gardens is also located in Owensboro, where beautiful flowers and sculptures can be found.
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