The City of Owensboro, Kentucky, is a cultural hub for western Kentucky. The southern banks of the Ohio River are a breathtaking backdrop to the downtown area and riverfront. The city that is home to Owensboro Riverport is currently revitalizing its downtown and riverfront. Plans include adding a downtown park, hotel and convention center, market square, and arts academy. Overlook pavilions, a promenade, a beautiful fountain, a boat ramp, and a playground will be added to the riverfront.
Owensboro Riverport has a humid subtropical climate with hot humid summers and cold winters. Temperatures range from an average high of 32°C (89°F) in July to an average low of -5°C (23°F) in January. Rainfall totaling about 49 inches a year is fairly evenly distributed from month to month.
Visitors to Owensboro Riverport will want to see the International Bluegrass Music Museum. Bluegrass is Kentucky's official State Music, and Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky" is one of two official State Songs (the other being Stephen Foster's "My Old Kentucky Home"). The official State Dance is clogging, the dance that was inspired by bluegrass music. Located in the RiverPark Complex in downtown Owensboro, the music radiates to the surrounding streets from the museum's radio station (RBI). The museum is dedicated to preserving the bluegrass Bill Monroe and his band (The Blue Grass Boys) made popular. Owensboro Riverport's International Bluegrass Museum is the only facility in the world that honors the history and preserves bluegrass music. It maintains permanent and temporary exhibits that focus on the bluegrass community and its events.
The permanent exhibits of the International Bluegrass Music Museum include the International Bluegrass Music Association's IMBA Bluegrass Hall of Fame, Bill Monroe's story, a timeline of bluegrass music, and bluegrass instruments (including Pete Seeger's banjo). The Café in this Owensboro Riverport museum is also used a space for "gigs" where cloggers celebrate the music on hardwood floors. New exhibits are normally presented in November and June. This Owensboro Riverport museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm and on Sunday from 1pm to 4pm. In January and February, the museum is closed on Sunday. Adult admission is $5. Students can enter for $2, and children under age 7 are free.
The Western Kentucky Botanical Garden in Owensboro Riverport was a cornfield in 1992 when Daviess County's horticulturalist, Mike Klahr, had the idea. Today, there are six distinct gardens where the corn used to stand. These feature roses, iris, daylilies, fruit and berries, herbs, and a garden for butterflies. The wonderful gardens are open seven days a week from March through November 15 from 9am until 3pm. During the winter season from November 16 through February, they are open on weekdays from 9am until 3pm. Botanical Garden members are admitted free. Adults pay $3, seniors pay $2, and students pay $1 to enter these Owensboro Riverport gardens. Self-guided and guided tours are available at the Welcome Center, and there are educational programs throughout the year. The Garden and facilities on the grounds are available for rent, and customers can get catering services.
The second weekend of every May, Owensboro Riverport and the city explode with the excitement of the International Bar-B-Q Festival. The festival was created to celebrate Daviess County's outstanding barbecue and to offer a forum for local charities, cooking teams compete mightily to win the Governor's Cup for the best overall barbecue. There is also a Backyard Cook-off for amateur grill masters. Festival visitors can sample the foods prepared by the cooking teams at the "Mutton Glutton." A Mutton Glutton pass entitles the attendee to admission to the event, food, unlimited drinks, and entertainment. On Friday night, mutton and pork sandwiches are featured. On Saturday, chicken, mutton, and "burgoo" (a Mulligan stew type of dish that combines hickory-smoked meat, vegetables, and a thickening agent) are featured on Saturday. In addition to great food, the festival serves up stages with live performances and dancing. Carnival rides, pie- and mutton-eating contests, face painting, and the Family Pavilion assure that kids will enjoy every minute of the festival. People interested in participating in the festival can check out their opportunities on the International Bar-B-Q Festival website.