By LARRY VAUGHT
OWENSBORO — When I was invited to come to Owensboro for a weekend to see how entertaining it could be, I wasn’t sure what to expect — especially since I brought my grandsons, ages 7 and 4, with me.
But we had a great time here Friday night and expect more of the same Saturday.
Owensboro’s Friday After 5 has to be one of the best kept secrets in the state. There were six locations with music Friday night, including the always popular Jimmy Church Band. However, our foursome liked the duo Jill and Kate the best.
They were playing at a patio setting just off the banks of the Ohio River and despite the windy conditions, they were terrific. Of course, maybe I should not have been surprised since they were former background singers for award-winning singer Kelly Clarkson. Now Jill Pickering and Kate Rapier are on their own both singing and writing songs from their home base in Nashville.
They were great interacting with fans and were terrific with my grandsons during a break in their show.
But the best thing about the whole event is that it is free every week. The RiverPark Center was filled with folks of all ages and all types of attire. It was just a fun night for everyone and the RiverPark to me was every bit as enticing and wonderful as the San Antonio Riverwalk.
You have food vendors in various locations as well as vendors with various other wares. But where else could you also go and get free popcorn to go with free music and find a host of volunteers who could not wait to help with any questions you might have.
This is the 20th year for the event that covers an eight block area on the riverfront. Tourism officials estimate over 50,000 folks attend during the summer but from what we saw Friday night, the total should be much higher because this is a fun time.
We got here early and went to Smothers Park where there is a fabulous playground for children as well as a splash area that my two grandsons did not want to leave. Surprisingly, it was not that crowded on a Friday afternoon but that certainly changed Friday night.
We also had a delightful dinner at Fetta Speciality Pizza and Spirits that included an entertaining conversation with managing partner Tim Turner. He explained how he sent a truck to Rhode Island to buy what most consider the nation’s best pizza dough and then experimented until he came up with a dough he thought was even better.
My youngest grandson and I are now big fans of the mashed potato/bacon pizza but based on the size of the crowd, every type of pizza at Fetta is popular. You can buy two sizes of pizza and each day there are also speciality pizzas offered by the slice.
It’s also located in the riverfront area and made it easy to eat and then get to the music venues.
We ended our night with a 10-minute walk back to our hotel that featured fountains and a lot of happy people.
So if you have never been to Friday After 5 in Owensboro, I would put it on the to-do list now.
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Saturday’s schedule includes a trip to Moonlite Barbeque, a parish festival and maybe another surprise or two.