Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau is bidding to host a major international geocaching event dubbed the world’s largest treasure hunt in 2022.
GeoWoodstock XIX, which is usually held on Memorial Day weekend, would boost the region’s hospitality industry and fill Owensboro’s hotels if awarded. Geocaching is a recreational activity where participants use their GPS mobile devices to find or hide geocaches throughout the city.
Margaret Bedilion, director of sales at Stay, Play, Made Simple — an event housing management company that will handle the hotel rooms for visitors if the city wins the bid — said Owensboro should see more than $800,000 in economic impact over the course of a week.
“You’re bringing tourists to see all you have to offer that probably normally would not come,” she said. “So it could be repeat business for you as well as having the exposure of people from all these different countries.”
She said Owensboro should easily attract more than 3,000 geocaching enthusiasts from all 50 states and more than 30 countries. Bedilion was a project manager of the 2018 GeoWoodstock in Cincinnati, which became the largest gathering of its kind with about 10,000 people.
CVB presider Mark Calitri said he was proud of the CVB team’s efforts in trying to lure larger high-profile events to Owensboro.
“When you’re looking at the big picture our number one priority going forward is to create more reasons for people to come and spend money,” Calitri said. “For Owensboro to dig out of this crisis, we need to aggressively pursue new revenue-generating opportunities.”
CVB will use the Smothers Park area to host the festival with other event headquarters at the RiverPark Center, Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum and O.Z. Tyler Distillery in 2022 if it gets the bid.
GeoWoodstock XIX was originally scheduled for 2021, but it’s being delayed a year because of COVID1-9, Bedilion said. It will now be held over Memorial Day weekend in 2022. Owensboro won’t know until later this summer if it wins the bid.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected so many, but we hope we can all see good come out of this. Winning the bid would create a tremendous economic impact on our local businesses,” Calitri said.
The first GeoWoodstock was in 2003 in Louisville as a way to bring geocachers together. The event now acts as an annual pilgrimage for geocachers worldwide with GeoWoodstock held throughout the United States. According to a geocaching website, there are 389 geocaches around Owensboro.