The Owensboro Pickleball Association (OPA) will be holding its first Tri-State Pickle Festival Saturday at Yellow Creek Park. And, yes, the festival will be largely pickle-themed — from the dishes prepared by food trucks, to the custom-made pickle-related items sold by vendors, to the pickle juice chugging contest that will be held.
But that’s not all, said OPA Director Rene Kuegel.
The day-long event will also include live music, a mechanical bull, inflatables, food trucks, craft vendors and a homemade pickle-tasting contest. Kuegel said the area is set up so that parents can keep an eye on their children playing on the inflatables while watching the concert from their seats.
Even more, Sundance Head, winner of Season 11’s “The Voice” will be headlining the free concert, which starts at 3 p.m. Troy Miller, Alonzo Pennington and WildSky will be opening for Head.
“Eric Group out of Rumsey, Ky. helped us with booking Sundance,” Kuegel said. “They did the staging for the event, and they worked it out to get him here. We’re so excited that he’ll be performing at our festival.”
The idea to host Daviess County’s first Pickle Fest came to Kuegel as she was driving with her sister to Evansville one day. After securing a deal with Daviess County Fiscal Court that would allow OPA to turn the tennis courts at Yellow Creek Park into pickleball courts, it was determined that at least $112,000 would need to be raised in order to complete the project.
“We’d been struggling with fundraising, and I thought, ‘How could we raise $112,000 to turn those tennis courts into pickleball courts?’” she said. “Outloud, as we were driving, I just said, ‘Pickles.’”
And so, the idea to hold a tri-state pickle festival was born. “Everyone loves pickles,” Kuegel thought to herself as she began to go over the idea in her head. And now, those ideas are finally coming to life.
“We’ve passed out 3,000 flyers. The CVB (Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau) made a video for us,” she said. “We’ve tried to spread the word as well as we could.”
Pickleball, known as the fastest-growing sport in Kentucky, is a passion of Kuegel’s, and she hopes that people are able to come out to the pickle festival and support the sport.
“It’s a sport that anyone can play,” she said. “If this festival is a success, we hope to host the pickle festival on the last weekend in September each year.”