ROMP an economic beast, Joslin says

Chris Joslin, executive director of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum

"ROMP is a beast in terms of economic activity," Chris Joslin, executive director of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, recently told the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

ROMP, the June 26-29 bluegrass festival at Yellow Creek Park, is the Hall of Fame's biggest event.

Last year, it drew 27,500 fans from 38 states and six countries.

And Joslin said he expects roughly the same numbers this year.

"This year, from tickets sold so far, people are coming from 34 states and six countries," he said.

The countries are the U.S., Canada, Israel, France, Australia and Wake Island.

Seventy-six percent of the tickets sold so far were to people from outside Daviess County, Joslin said.

"The response has been great," he said. "This year is our 16th annual festival. It's having a larger and larger economic impact on the community."

Last year, on the final day of ROMP, with roughly 12,000 people crowding into the park, the museum stopped selling tickets in late afternoon.

"It was the first year we've ever had to close the gates," Joslin said. "Alison Krauss was the big reason" that so many people came that day.

He said the Hall of Fame spends $15,000 a year on hotel rooms in town for artists and others who come to work at the festival.

People coming to the festival "spend at least three to four times that amount," Joslin said.

"We spend more than $100,000 locally during ROMP," he said.

Special events planned

Joslin said special events are planned at the Hall of Fame downtown during ROMP this year.

"During ROMP, Rhonda Vincent and Del McCoury will bring their tour buses to the museum," Carly Smith, the Hall of Fame's marketing director, said earlier. "They'll come inside, pick a couple of songs and sign autographs for the fans. We'll have some smaller bands playing in the lobby. We're having a film festival too, with documentaries and some of our video oral history films."

Joslin said O.Z. Tyler Distillery will use its van and the city will use its trolley to take people to and from Yellow Creek Park to visit the Hall of Fame, the distillery and the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden.

They'll also be able to shop and eat downtown, he said.

Joslin said family and friends from several states use ROMP for reunions.

"We had a wedding there two years ago," he said.

But, Joslin said, "For a lot of people, Owensboro is still undiscovered territory."

Brand USA, the marketing agency for American tourism, is trying to change that.

It selected Owensboro as one of its Top 10 American music cities last year.

A video about Owensboro being used in the international campaign has drawn nearly 5 million views, Mark Calitri, CVB president, told his board.

Brand USA plans to invest more money next year to promote the video, he said.

ROMP's lineup for the main stage includes Trampled by Turtles, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, Billy Strings, The Jacob Jolliff Band and Wood & Wire on June 27.

On June 28, the lineup includes The Del McCoury Band, The Wood Brothers, Jeff Austin Band & The Travelin’ McCourys perform the Grateful Ball, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers and The Trailblazers.

And on June 29, it’s Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Patty Loveless, Sam Bush, Steve Earle & The Dukes, Della Mae, Chatham County Line, Jig Jam and The Family Sowell.

Artists slated to perform on the Jagoe Homes After Party Stage are Glade City Rounders and Relic on June 26, Wood & Wire and Rumpke Mountain Boys on June 27, Songs from the Road Band and Horseshoes & Hand Grenades on June 28 and Dustbowl Revival on June 29.

To buy tickets, go to rompfest.com or call 270-926-7891.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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