When the 46th Annual Owensboro Dust Bowl kicks off Friday at Kendall Perkins Park, the tournament will be a mix of tradition and newness.
Tournament director Byron Owen is excited to bring some changes to this year’s tournament in an effort to keep up with the times while striving to maintain its authenticity. The sights, sounds, and smells will all remain the same, however, this year’s format will shift from a single elimination to double elimination in each division.
“We’ve done double elimination in the past with just the men, but we are going to do it for every division,” Owen said. “Dust Bowl has always been a ‘win or go home’ [concept], but with other tournaments promising a certain number of games, we felt it important to keep up with the times.”
Additionally, Owen looks forward to adding a 35-and-over division as a result of the overwhelming attention that the game received last year.
“We did one game last year and it was a battle of two neighborhoods and it was fun,” Owen said. “Other neighborhoods from around town and even out of town took notice and decided they wanted to participate this year.”
In attending to witness some high-octane hoops in an incredible environment, he outdoor courts at Kendall-Perkins generally boast a DJ, primetime announcing and some of the best concessions for miles around.
“This event is for the people — they are what makes it,” Owen said. “It’s about diversity, people of all walks of life are bumping elbows during this event, and that’s what makes it great.”
The event has evolved into a family affair for many Owensboro natives. In addition to the tournament, the H.L. Neblett Center will host a homecoming event on July 26-27 that features music and food on the corner of 5th and Maple streets.
“It’s been around for 46 years,” Owen said. “People like to come home when they find out when the Dust Bowl is. It’s great seeing them reunite with old friends and family.”
The tournament highlights the following male and female divisions: 3rd and 4th grade; 5th and 6th grade; 7th and 8th grade; Junior Varsity (Grades 9-10); High School (Grades 9-12), 35-and-over; Open.