Last year over 25,000 visitors from all over the globe descended upon Yellow Creek Park in order to immerse themselves, not just in bluegrass music, but in a feeling. The ROMP experience is unlike any other concert experience that you will ever encounter. It is not a spectator event by any means, but more of a hands-on, pickin’ and grinnin’ social experience for many generations to enjoy, as thousands of visitors pitch their tents and reside in RV’s in the picturesque 150-acre park.
For the Relaxer
Truth be told, you don’t need to leave the spacious grounds of Yellow Creek Park to indulge all of your senses. According to Katie Keller, Marketing Director for Owensboro’s International Bluegrass Music Museum, “Yellow Creek truly becomes home away from home for the weekend.” You can enjoy music almost any time of the day, whether you just want to kick back and soak it in, or grab your instrument and join a jam session. The park also offers ponds for fishing, miles of nature trails for hiking, and a splash park and play area for children. With over thirty craft vendors offering anything from handmade pottery and jewelry to hand-carved furniture and instruments, there will most certainly be something for everyone.
For the Learner
There are many workshops being offered throughout the weekend to help nurture and refine your inner musician. Some of ROMP’s top artists will be leading workshops in dancing, songwriting, harmonica, and several other instruments. There will also be yoga classes offered on Friday and Saturday for adults, as well as parents with children.
For the Foodie
You will not find your typical deep-fried festival food at this music festival. Although you will of course find Owensboro’s traditional Ole South and Moonlite BBQ, ROMP is all about embracing the healthier side of life. With multiple fresh food vendors catering to the “farm-to-table” lifestyle, you can find anything from gyros and street tacos to fresh organic juices and home-made ice cream. Regardless of your food preference, you are sure to find something new and exciting to try.
For the Historian
(or anyone wanting to know just a little bit more about Bluegrass)
The International Bluegrass Music Museum makes it possible for visitors to not only enjoy the music of ROMP, but to have a chance to experience downtown Owensboro, as well. The museum has teamed up with GRITS (Green River Intra-County Transit System) and the Owensboro Transit downtown trolley to provide a continuous loop of free transportation for ROMP attendees to downtown Owensboro and the Bluegrass Museum Thursday thru Saturday from 10a.m. until 5p.m. The museum will be offering free admission to all ROMP participants wearing a wristband.
Home to the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, this two-story museum celebrates and embodies the rich history of bluegrass music. The interactive exhibits and authentic music memorabilia help to preserve a style of music that has had such a powerful influence on so many of the music genres we enjoy today. From Bill Monroe’s traditional suits and Mother Mable Carter’s autoharp to the realistic juke box diner, the Bluegrass Music Museum offers a rare look inside many of the pioneers and inspirations for bluegrass. In addition to the usual exhibits, the museum will also be offering live music, a variety of films documenting the history of bluegrass, and instruction on flatfoot dancing techniques.
For the Sightseer
After you have taken in all that the museum has to offer, make sure to drop in to The Crème coffee shop, just one block away, and indulge yourself in one of many ROMP-inspired beverages. Cool off with a frozen “Red Romp,” energized with a shot of Red Bull, the hot or iced “Dirty Hippy” soy chai latte, with two added shots of espresso for a little extra kick, or the sweet and mellow “Bluesberry Iced Latte,” made with fresh blueberries and white chocolate. From there you can take a relaxing stroll along the Owensboro riverfront, or let the children play amongst the life-like trees at the Smothers Park play area. Make sure to stop in at Nona’s Downtown Market for some delightful homemade treats, and be sure to take home one of many one-of-a-kind items to remember Owensboro by.
For the Tech Savvy
To keep up with the many activities that will be happening throughout the weekend and make the most of your ROMP 2016 experience, download the free app, available for both iPhone and Android. (Just type “Romp Fest” into the search engine). With this very user-friendly app, you can see the entire lineup of artists, including their profiles, music, and video clips. You have the capability of setting your own schedule based on the artists you choose or the times you have available. There is a detailed map of how the park will be set up for the weekend, a list of workshops, food vendors, as well as the ability to connect on social media from one application. This app was designed for the convenience of all visitors, but may offer an enormous advantage to those visiting for the first time.
Whether this is your first time visiting ROMP or your tenth, you will undoubtedly come away with an increased love and appreciation for the roots and branches of bluegrass music. You never know, you might just meet a few new friends along the way, because at ROMP, “you don’t meet strangers, you meet friends you haven’t met yet.”