ROMP Festival 2022 kicks off first day in Owensboro

OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - An Owensboro classic returned with the 19th annual ROMP Bluegrass Festival on Thursday.

[PREVIOUS: Early birds arrive to ROMP ahead of festival]

Bluegrass music holds a special place in Kentucky.

”I tell people all the time, bluegrass music isn’t just something fun we play in Kentucky, bluegrass is from Kentucky, it’s uniquely Kentucky. So this is an opportunity for us to really show off our cultural roots with Kentucky’s music,” said Bluegrass Museum Executive Director Chris Joslin.

Organizers were eager to have it back after the 2021 festival wasn’t at full capacity, and 2020 couldn’t have a festival at all due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They say attendance so far has been comparable to pre-pandemic levels. This means a lot to the Owensboro Bluegrass Museum, which hosts the festival, since it plays a big role in their budget.

”This is really a fundraising event cleverly disguised as a world-class bluegrass festival,” said Joslin.

Outside of the main stage, the festival also has food vendors, merchandise and a kid zone. Festival-goers can also camp at Yellow Creek Park during the festival, and organizers say some people stay here the whole week.

For some first-time attendees, they are just glad the weather has been mostly cooperative.

”Well it’s been really hot, but we heard in other years it’s been really wet and muddy, so we’re actually pretty grateful that it’s not that way and it’s just hot,” said first-time visitor Dani Lewis, who was visiting from Kansas City, Missouri.

For those who have a bit more experience at the event, they have their own favorite elements.

”Well they have great entertainment. It’s all about the live music from my perspective,” said Larry Archer, an Evansville man who’s been coming to the event since it began.

”The people, in general, the whole vibe, everything is wonderful about this festival,” said Vanessa Goodnight, who has come multiple times to the festival and this year is volunteering.

Performers take the stage each night until 1:30 a.m.

There are also two more music-filled days Friday and Saturday.

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Robinson  Miles

Robinson Miles

Robinson is a reporter for 14 News and is excited to be in the Tri-State.