• 401 Frederica Street, B-203
  • Owensboro, Kentucky 42301
  • (270) 685-2652 | FAX (270) 685-6074
  • 1
    • Background
  • 2
    • Option 1: An eclectic mix of projects, driven by the marketplace
  • 3
    • Option 2: A selected comprehensive commercial development plan
  • 4
    • Option 3: A selected tourism development project
  • 5
    • Learn More / Share Your Views / Get Involved

What will work along the riverfront?

Option 3: A selected tourism development project

Because our market may not be strong enough to attract significant traditional commercial development along the riverfront, this option suggests that we package a distinctive tourism project along Veteran’s Boulevard between our two arts and entertainment anchors – RiverPark Center and the Executive Inn. Three thematic approaches warrant closer examination:

A. A Vibrant Entertainment Complex

By building upon the success of Fridays After Five and entertainment featured on the McConnell Plaza near the Executive Inn, a vibrant entertainment cluster could be created along our riverfront. On available properties between the two anchors, an eclectic cluster of entertainment venues could feature popular dance music, country, jazz, blues, comedy club, cinema center, and more. Bluegrass music could be reintroduced at Woodward’s in the International Bluegrass Music Museum. A few additional restaurants could be sprinkled amidst the entertainment venues. Our riverfront could be to Owensboro what Beale Street is to Memphis, the Riverwalk is to San Antonio, or Fourth Street LIVE is becoming to Louisville.

B. A Prestegious Center of the Arts

This option suggests that Owensboro has a unique opportunity to become the Stratford, Ontario of MidAmerica. In this 53rd year, Stratford’s Shakespeare Festival will attract 700,000 tourists to 18 plays presented in four venues in this Canadian city of 30,000 people. In the short term, facilities at RiverPark Center, Executive Inn, Theatre Workshop, Goldie’s, and Owensboro High School could be used. For an even more appealing attraction, we could build a cluster of several new performance venues between RiverPark and the Executive Inn within walking distance of one another along our riverfront. We could feature Shakespeare, musicals, dramas, a revival of Josiah!, an original musical revue based on river tunes or the life of Bill Monroe, and much more.

C. A Re-created Historic Rivertown

Attractions that preserve and celebrate our history and cultural heritage are important and increasingly popular. In our area – from Harrodsburg and Boonesboro, to New Harmony, Silver Dollar City, and Nashville, Indiana – tourists continue to be drawn to attractions that enable them to step back in time and gain a sense of what it was like to live in a different era. Despite the popularity of such attractions, few historic rivertowns have been re-created on the banks of mighty rivers. A re-creation of Old Owensborough/Yellowbanks in conjunction with the improvements planned in and around Smother’s Park could be a successful formula. Through such a project, a cluster of buildings would resemble those from the mid- and late-1800’s. There could be a replica of Bill Smother’s cabin, flatboat construction and rides, trade demonstrations by coopers, blacksmiths, tanners, hostlers, sawyers, and other occupations that once characterized rivertowns. We could offer rides in paddle wheelers, Ames buggies, Owensboro Wagons, or streetcars on cobblestone streets. A few buffaloes could water as they once did in a gully where Frederica Street now exists. There could be a peddler on the street promoting elixirs, an old fashion saloon or opera house. Actors “in character” could roam about, sharing stories and portraying historic figures, such as Joseph Hamilton Daviess, our county’s namesake.


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