The Owensboro-Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau is transforming its Visitor Information Center at 215 E. Second St. into a small tourist attraction.
Mark Calitri, President of CVB, said, “Our Board of Directors has challenged us to rethink the experience of our visitors and the way we interact with our customers and tell the unique and authentic story of Owensboro and of Daviess County.
By the end of the month, the center should see a wall covered in bluegrass instruments for visitors to take apart and play, much like in the Pickin’ Parlor at the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum.
The idea is to encourage visitors to head west on Second Street to visit the Hall of Fame.
Chris Joslin, Executive Director of the Hall of Fame, said, “All of the creative elements brought together in the Visitor Center are an example of the larger economic strategy around cultural tourism and showcasing Owensboro’s unique character. “.
He said, “This kind of interactive experience gives the visitor a taste of what they can expect to find in the ‘Bluegrass Music Capital of the World’. We are creating a wall of images that will transmit the energy around the music.
Joslin said, “People are excited to dive deeper into the authenticity of Daviess County and I see momentum. When we all work together, something powerful happens.
The center will also emphasize the roots of Daviess County bourbon and its continued expansion.
Calitri said the reception will be “creatively framed with barrel bars.”
A bourbon-barrel rickhouse experience “will showcase the bourbon-making process and highlight the rebirth of Owensboro’s legendary Green River bourbon,” he said.
Green River Distilling Co. will bring back its Green River Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey for the first time in over a century on February 10 with a grand three-day celebration.
Whiskey was internationally known in the years before Prohibition.
Calitri said another exhibit will honor football legend Terry Bradshaw and the late Western actor John Wayne – who both made whiskey in Green River.
“This exhibit will help tell their bourbon story and help visitors understand why these two celebrities chose Green River Distilling Co. to make their bourbon,” he said.
In Wayne’s case, his estate chose Green River.
Jacob Call, Kentucky Master Distiller and General Manager for Green River Spirits, said, “This is an exciting time for Green River Distillery and we are very excited to be working with the Visit Owensboro team to bring the distillery to life. in downtown Owensboro. ”
He said, “With the revival of Green River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, we expect awareness of our distillery to increase, and with that, we anticipate record numbers of visitors this year. We’re a heritage member and the westernmost location on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and we’re expanding our tour offerings. 2022 is an exciting year for all of us and for the community of Owensboro. »
Calitri said, “This is the first stage of the project and Visit Owensboro is committed to promoting all of our valued tourism partners.”
He said, “My message to everyone is that if we can come together and work together, Owensboro and Daviess County will have a lot of positive momentum. Now is the time to be aggressive and push forward. Owensboro can be on top coming out of this pandemic.
Calitri said, “We are replacing the building’s existing vinyl signage facing oncoming traffic on Second Street. The sign will be visible to vehicles coming from Indiana across the Blue Bridge. We will have the ability to rotate posts to promote different attractions and events. »
He said: “The new modernization allows us to engage and entertain our ever growing number of visitors. The building will retain its historic design features, while enhancing the experience that the more modern visitor expects.
Calitri said, “Customers can explore the gift shop and discover the many options available to visitors to Daviess County. We will still have the popular bluegrass mural on the building for photo ops. »
He said the center will also modernize and update the photography and add a new color palette that aligns with the Green River Distilling Co. brand colors – Navajo white and Green River green.
Calitri said Owensboro artist Aaron Kizer will create artwork promoting the Owensboro art scene for the center.
What is now, the CVB had been trying for years to raise enough money for the visitor center.
Then, finally, in 1995, Governor Brereton Jones awarded a grant of $250,000 from the federal and state governments to build the center.
But that was in May 1997 – 25 years ago – before it finally opened.
It was designed to handle tourist buses with up to 50 people at a time.