She said Friday After 5 will unveil its 2019 lineup on April 17.
But Thomas said changes are coming to the lineup on the Kentucky Legends Pier behind the convention center.
“We’re changing the lineup on the Pier to appeal more to the 18- to 36-year-old crowd,” she said.
This year’s theme, Thomas said, is “Shake, Rattle and Stroll.”
“Things are shaking in Owensboro,” she said. “We’re reaching out to so many organizations, conventions and tournaments to bring people downtown for the 16-week free festival.”
Thomas said, “A lot of cities are envious of us. We’ve had calls from Paducah and a city in Pennsylvania wanting to know how we can do it for free. The answer is sponsors.”
She said Friday After 5 is promoting bourbon and bluegrass — two local tourist draws — this year.
“We’re working with the bluegrass museum to do something this year and hopefully more next year,” Thomas said.
Most Friday nights between May 17 and Aug. 30 will see 3,000 to 4,200 people strolling downtown and listening to music, she said.
Thomas asked the CVB board for $3,000 to help with its $31,000 marketing budget.
“We’re trying to reach more people to the south,” she said. “We’re doing very well in Indiana. But we would like to draw more from Bowling Green and Elizabethtown — maybe even Nashville.”
Mark Calitri, CVB president, suggested that the board hold off on the decision until April so he can check to see if state funds may be available.
The CVB usually considers how many hotel rooms an event will fill before deciding on grants.
But Kyle Aud, CVB board chairman, said, “Friday After 5 is an amenity. We don’t look at how many heads it puts in beds.”
“It has a good impact on downtown,” Matthew McCloud, general manager of the Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown Owensboro/Waterfront until last week, told the board.
“Between us and the Holiday Inn, we probably get around 25 rooms on Friday nights from people who came to Owensboro just for Friday After 5.”
McCloud, a member of the CVB board, is moving to Louisville.