Owensboro: More Than BBQ

By: Cherise Mingus

I’m fortunate enough to have found a career in higher education. By day, I am at Lindsey Wilson College helping students obtain scholarship money to fund their education by volunteering their time weekly at local nonprofits. It’s challenging but rewarding work. There are 70 students that I am in constant contact with as I remind them to log their community service hours or plan programming. Most of my students think I’m a kooky hippie that loves Kentucky, weird banjo music, cats, and bright lipstick. They aren’t wrong. But every once and a while a student really gets me. It’s affirming when a student and I bond over a shared interest.

By weekend/ evening, I’m not a higher education professional. I am a Kentuckian. I seek adventure. I’m always on the hunt for a good concert, tourist attraction, or restaurant to try. Most of the time I go on these adventures alone. But with the launch of Explore Kentucky and my desire to see more of this state I’ve started reaching out to those close to me and those I’ve just met to unearth the Bluegrass with me.

Confession -- I use twitter a lot. I have strong social media game (follow me on @cherisesoldout -- shameless plug). A few weeks ago one of my students tweeted to inform me that my friend Ben Sollee was playing in her hometown of Owensboro and that I should get a ticket. Since the semester just started, my higher education life wasn’t in complete full swing. I had the day free! It was time to be a Kentuckian.

It’s not in my nature to disappoint a student or miss a Ben Sollee show so I quickly scooped up a ticket and started planning my adventure to Owensboro. Now, I’m here to tell you, I’ve made the trip to Owensboro several times. In my youth, my parents took me to the no-longer-open Executive Inn. If I remember correctly, they used to run a country music radio station out of the grand hotel and my twin brother and I got to be on-air schooling the DJ on country music. I could identify 90’s country songs and artists with only a few opening bars of music. Yeah, I was (still am) basically the queen of useless knowledge.

Additionally, I’ve attended the summer ROMP (River of Music Party) Bluegrass Music Festival for the past three years. It’s an awesome music festival at Yellow Creek Park sponsored by the International Bluegrass Music Museum. They recently released the lineup for this summer and if bluegrass music is your thing (you’re Kentuckian, it should be your thing), you should make plans to attend.

However, on this visit I didn’t have a music festival or fancy hotel to visit. So I had to find my own adventure. I reached out to a few friends for suggestions and decided to have lunch at a local restaurant called Lure.

Lure is locally owned and operated in the recently revamped downtown Owensboro scene (which is pretty cool). The establishment offers fresh seafood and sushi prepared with great expertise and precision with a green conscience. I sat at the bar since I was traveling alone. Instantly, I was struck with the contemporary yet rustic theme. My meal had great attention to detail and the bar was stocked. I can easily recommend the restaurant as the staff was friendly and attentive plus the food was amazing.

IF YOU GO:

Parking - free street parking or paid garage nearby
Cost - $$ (lunch specials available)
Hours - Monday-Saturday 11am-10pm, Sunday 11am-9pm

After lunch I made my way down the riverfront to the International Bluegrass Music Museum for a tour. The International Bluegrass Music Museum is the world center for the presentation of the history, culture, and future of bluegrass music. The museum seeks to develop and maintain an environment in which people of all ages can discover the richness of bluegrass music through an exciting and educational experience. I spent two hours looking through the exhibits and soaking up the wealth of information. On weekends the museum is pretty empty so you have the freedom to take your time navigating the two floors of material. As you leave make sure you check out the gift shop. They have some great CDs and vinyl available for purchase.

IF YOU GO:

Parking - free street parking or paid garage nearby
Cost - $5 for adults/seniors, $2 for students, Free for children under 6, Group rates available
Hours - Tuesday - Saturday 10am-5:00pm CST Sunday 1pm -4pm CST Closed on Mondays
Closed Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day.

After touring the museum I walked down to a local coffee shop for a caffeine jolt. The Creme Coffee House is locally owned and operated and offers coffee drinks and desserts. There were several people enjoying the warm atmosphere and free WiFi. My coffee was awesome (I drink it black so I’m pretty picky).

IF YOU GO:

Parking - free street parking
Cost - $
Hours - Monday - Thursday 7:30am-8:00pm, Friday 7:30am-10:00pm, Saturday 9:00am-9:00pm, Closed Sundays

Finally, I found myself at the Two Theatre Workshop of Owensboro to see Ben Sollee. For those of you who are not familiar with his music, Ben is a classically trained cellist and huge supporter of all things Kentucky. He has a warm personality that resonates with his fans. You can find other pieces on Explore Kentucky where Ben has lended his expertise and kind heart to promoting and protecting our Commonwealth. He is our friend and we adore him.

I have found in my days as a proud Kentuckian that not all exploring happens on trails. Sometimes they happen on rivers and roads. So if you find yourself in Owensboro and you have a thirst for something different I encourage you to visit a few of the places mentioned here.