Organizers still hopeful Dust Bowl will take place

This article by John Kirkpatrick was originally published in the Owensboro Times on May 20, 2020.

The 47th Annual Owensboro Dust Bowl is expected to take place as normal, though there’s still a chance that could change.

The tournament slated for July 17-25 features 14 divisions and brings people from all walks of life together for some high-octane basketball.

The COVID-19 pandemic robbed every Owensboro city park of their basketball rims, leaving many to question if the blacktop classic would return to Kendall-Perkins Park this year.

Tournament director Byron Owen and his committee have continued their planning efforts, adapting as necessary.

“This event requires year-long planning, but since this virus hit, our committee hasn’t been able to meet since late February,” he said. “If there’s any way possible to play this to some degree, we’re all for it.”

Still more than a month away, Owen is reluctant to make any decisions regarding the event until the first of July. At that point the committee will determine if and what type of restrictions will be necessary, or if the event will be cancelled altogether. It will not be postponed.

Depending on what regulations are in effect when the event approaches, the committee is open to moving the tournament indoors and limiting fans.

“We need to see where we’re at come July — if mass gatherings will be allowed, and what restrictions will be in place,” Owen said. “We will abide by whatever regulations are in place. We want to do what is safe for everyone involved. Public safety is number one.”

With several local sporting events, festivals, and fairs already canceled, Owen thinks mid-July bodes well for people itching to venture out of their homes.

Owen credits the tournament’s storied success to the generations of people that find their way to the intersection of Maple and Fifth every year for some summer hoops.

“The people are what makes this thing a success,” he said. “It’s family and friends coming together to have a good time.”

As the pandemic impedes fundraising efforts, Owen is hopeful that a re-emerging economy will balance the economic pitfalls.

Registration for the event will remain open through July 1. Additional information regarding the Dust Bowl can be found on the event’s website