The steamboats are coming.
And, boy, are they.
For more than 40 years, what’s now the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau has been trying to persuade steamboat companies to make Owensboro a regular port of call.
But the efforts have met with little success, with no more than two or three stopping occasionally.
The steamboats and their passengers have stopped in Paducah and Henderson instead.
But Mark Calitiri, CVB president, said the efforts are paying off this year with three steamboats from American Voyages — the American Queen, American Duchess and the American Countess — scheduled to stop at English Park 14 times between Sunday and Nov. 9.
Each will bring between 150 and 400 passengers from as far away as California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota to town.
Calitri said three buses follow the steamboats and pick up the passengers at each stop to take them to destinations in each community.
In Owensboro, he said, they’ll go to the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden, Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, Owensboro Museum of Fine Art and Green River Distilling Co.
The CVB will provide hosts for each bus to talk about the community as the visitors pass through the city.
Calitri said the success in finally getting more steamboat — and passenger — visits is “the level of service we offer. Owensboro has so much to offer.”
The Hall of Fame and Green River Distilling, which is part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, have both opened since 2018.
And the coronavirus pandemic halted much of the hospitality industry in 2020 and 2021.
“Nowhere else in America is authenticity on display on such a grand scale than right here in Owensboro,” said Chris Joslin, executive director of the Hall of Fame. “We’re just living out our cultural roots and inviting the world to our little private party.”
Sarah Haynes, the CVB’s director of destination sales and services, said, “We are so excited for the opportunity to guide them around our city and show them what we’re famous for.”
The schedule shows the American Countess here from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.
It will also stop from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 17, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 26 and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 30.
The American Duchess will be here from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 8 and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 13.
The American Queen will be in Owensboro from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 30 and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 17.
The American Duchess returns from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 19 and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 23.
The American Countess returns from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 28 and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 15.
The American Duchess closes out the year with stops from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 21 and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 9.
Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301 firstname.lastname@example.org