Air show crowd tops 70,000 over weekend

The seventh annual Owensboro Air Show drew more than 70,000 people from several states to Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport on Friday night and the downtown riverfront on Saturday and Sunday.

Tim Ross, the city’s public events director, said all three days set records.

Friday night’s crowd at the airport — estimated at 11,000-plus — was so large that cars were parking more than half a mile away.

And Ross had to ask people to stop coming because no parking spaces were left.

Saturday, an estimated 35,000-plus crowded the riverfront from the RiverPark Center to English Park to see the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and other acts.

And Sunday, another 25,000 or so came back for the final day of the air show.

“This was the largest attendance for the air show that we have seen at the (Owensboro) Convention Center since we opened,” Laura Alexander, the center’s general manager, said Monday. “All areas were sold out in advance, and we had to add an area this year — The Bulliet Bourbon Hangar Bar Tent — to accommodate more people.”

She said, “We are beyond thrilled with the turnout, and the attendees all seemed to have a great time. I spoke with several people from out of town who were praising our downtown area and said that they hope to return next year.”

Alexander said she will be giving her annual report to the Owensboro City Commission on Tuesday night, Sept. 18, and will include preliminary results from the air show in the report.

Mark Calitri, president of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the air show, combined with the National Softball Association World Series tournament in town and the Jerusalem Ridge Festival in Ohio County, “had a large economic impact for our community.”

Calitri said the air show “was great for (hotel) occupancy and rates because you’re selling multiple nights — not just Saturday night. The dollar is turned over numerous times when you think about all of the people who were downtown eating, shopping and buying gas to go home after the air show wrapped up.”

He said, “We partnered with the city on some marketing strategies, hitting the Nashville and Louisville markets really hard, and I think it really paid off. When you throw in a bluegrass music festival in a neighboring county and teams from all around the country in to play softball, it makes for a winning combination for tourism.”

Bob Whitmer, airport manager, said the weekend went “superbly” there.

He praised the the help from the city’s public works department and Ross in handling the record crowds.

Messenger-Inquirer article written by Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, [email protected]