Owensboro’s tourism economy — like that of most cities in America — has been shattered by the coronavirus pandemic.
But the city and local attractions are trying to fight back as the number of new cases begins to wane.
The Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau hosted a virtual roundtable with 32 participants Wednesday morning and several said they are planning events for this summer and fall.
Tim Ross, the city’s public events director, said, “We want as many things as possible. People want to get out and do things.”
He said the Owensboro Convention Center is planning a “Picnic on the Lawn” this summer.
Laura Alexander, general manager of the center, said an announcement will be made on Friday.
Ross said the city is planning a big celebration in mid- to late August with music and fireworks when the bridge lighting project is completed.
He said no decision has been made on the July 4 fireworks show, but city officials are still hoping it will happen.
Ross said he’s talking with a fishing tournament that could bring 80 to 100 boats to town in July or August.
He said the city hopes to restart Live on the Banks, the free Saturday night concerts in Smothers Park, in July and continue them through October.
And Ross said work is progressing on a 12 Days of Christmas celebration downtown in December.
Chris Joslin, executive director of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, said an announcement about when ROMP will be should come in a few days.
The four-day bluegrass festival that attracts more than 25,000 people from around the world to Owensboro, was scheduled for June 24-27.
But it has been postponed.
Gwen Payne, deputy CEO of the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, said the symphony’s annual “Concert on the Lawn” at Kentucky Wesleyan is still being planned.
She said it attracts “huge crowds,” so the symphony is working on several scenarios of how to handle it.
Todd Reynolds, executive director of Theatre Workshop of Owensboro, said, “We had lots and lots of things planned for this summer.”
But, he said, “We need to plan like it’s a matter of life and death — because it is.”
Reynolds said TWO has already had to cancel three major fundraisers.
“We’re thinking about whether we’re going to survive or not,” he said.
Brian Smith, one of the owners of Diamond Lake Resort, said his miniature golf has been open for weeks with no problems and he’s opening his Grand Prix go-cart track this weekend.
Mark Calitri, CVB president, said, sports tournaments still aren’t allowed yet in Kentucky, but they are in Indiana.
What that means, he said, is that local teams are going to Evansville to play and if they get coronavirus, “they’ll bring it back here.”
Kentucky would get the disease without getting the profits from the tournaments, Calitri said.
Alexander said conventions and other events at the convention center are canceling plans for October and November because they don’t know if the state will allow them.
She said concerts are going to Evansville rather than Owensboro, because Indiana is open.
Calitri said, “Things are going to change every day.”
He said consumer confidence has to improve before people come back out for events.
That’s something the tourism industry and the state have to work on, Calitri said.
Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301 firstname.lastname@example.org