Summer Fun in Owensboro

Mariah Wise, Staff Writer

Staying in town this summer? Looking for things to do because “it’s Owensboro”? Look no further because we have a list that is just for you!

Owensboro is known for its many festivals throughout the year, however, summertime downtown, out at Yellow Creek Park, and at the Drive-Inn are where the real magic happens. This list is comprehensive, and most things do cost money, but hopefully you have a job lined up if you’re staying in the ‘Boro.

Beginning with May, the month that kicks off the good times, you’ll find that Owensboro has more to offer than you may have originally thought. The Holiday Drive-Inn in Rio, Indiana (right over the blue bridge) is will be open every night of the week showing the most popular movies, with concessions available just a quick walk away! It’s not technically in Owensboro, but you can bet you’ll see more people from Owensboro than Indiana there! The Festival of Flowers will be May 6th, which is to be at the Botanical Gardens, down West 2nd Street; the next weekend, May 12-13, however, is the International BBQ Festival! A favorite for Owensboro natives and the surrounding counties, the BBQ Fest has rides, music, and tons, of, FOOD! Street vendors from all over come to sell their handmade treats as well as non-profits in Owensboro who sell concessions to benefit their cause. If you haven’t made the tough decision of whether you like Moonlite, Old Hickory, or Old South BBQ best, this festival is the place to do it. Grab a plate from all three and sit down by the  river to take your time making your final decision! This festival is 2 days  long and will be going from noon til night with rides, good eats, and street vendors selling a myriad of items will be there; and the weekend after BBQ Fest, kicks off our very first Friday After 5 night! Not exactly a festival, but Friday After 5 is the place to be during those hot summer nights to “start your weekend right”. You can visit Smother’s Park, take a stroll through the Riverpark Center, or have dinner at the Leur, all while listening to bands on the main stage, court yard, ampitheater, and pier.

Friday After 5 will continue all summer through August, so we won’t mention that one again, but June has some big plans as well this year. ROMPFest, Owensboro’s own Bluegrass music fesitval will be happening June 21-24! That’s a Wednesday through Saturday so make sure you request off work so you can camp out at Yellow Creek Park and enjoy the festival atmosphere. There will be vendors from all over selling hand-made products ranging from artwork to organic soaps to wall tapestries, food vendors from local businesses in Owensboro as well as from surrounding areas, music featuring Grammy Award winners The SteelDrivers and the Jerry Douglas Band, as well as a docuseries over the history of Bluegrass music in Kentucky. All of this is produced by the International Bluegrass Music Museum, located downtown on Daviess Street. The IBMM is currently in the process of building a new museum, that will be twice the size of the current one, and only a few short blocks away from the building they have now, and ROMP is their largest fundraiser of the year! Last year alone, ticket sales from 25,000 people over the four day festival flooded their offices. Tickets an be purchased for individual or multiple days at the gate, or online at, which is also where you will find the lineup of bands, vendors, and more!

Last but not least, July 2017. In July we will celebrate the U.S.A.’s birthday down on the river like you do in Kentucky! The 4th of July Festivities will include a firework show, music provided  by local artists, and an opportunity to camp out at Smother’s Park, where there will be concessions sold before and during the show. No tickets are required to come to this event, but make sure you bring a lawn chair. The Big O Music Fest will also be in July this year, who’s headliners they have not yet announced, however, every year it is the perfect day to come out, take a seat, grab a beer (if you’re of age) and listen to some good ole country music! One lucky band who partakes in WBKR’s competition for the opening spot at the Big O will play, and then you get to the line up of more well known bands, until they end the night with someone BIG. It’s a great time had by all, and the perfect way to spend Saturday, July 8th. Tickets can be purchased at WBKR’s website.

That is all we have for you here in Owensboro, but it sure does sound like a good summer!