Community events are the social core for many residents in the region. Despite the ongoing health crisis, communities improvised and adapted to continue events that encourage interconnectedness. Communities displayed creativeness in upholding traditions while observing CDC and state health guidelines.
Health and government officials recommended outdoor walking and exercise during the pandemic to encourage social distancing and healthy lifestyles. The City of Slaughters saw a significant increase in the use of its walking trail, bringing attention to the need for rehabilitation on the decades-old trail. Residents of Morganfield benefited from new lights on the walking path. The City of Corydon also completed a renovation to its path. The opening of Jeffreys Cliffs Conservation & Recreation Area in Hancock County provided an opportunity for many in the region to stay active in a COVID-19 safe way.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources offered virtual hunter education to protect Kentuckians and state employees from COVID-19. The Department required an online course and virtual range day. Exemption permits were also available for free for a limited time (Ohio County Times-News, October 7, 2020).
Third Region Sports Network (3RSN), started locally in 2010 and saw higher view counts during COVID-19. They had views from all fifty states and over ten countries. 3RSN broadcasts high school athletics, mostly in Hancock County.
Graduation parades gave graduating seniors across the region a sense of closure.
During the fall season, socially distanced events such as farms and corn mazes gained popularity.
McLean County hosted a Halloween movie drive-in that reached an attendance of over 200 people. Drive-in movies occurred in multiple cities and counties across the GRADD region throughout the pandemic to provide entertainment while social distancing.
The City of Sturgis hosted a bear hunt for local children. Community members were encouraged to put bears – stuffed, pictures, statues, anything – in windows or on porches so children could go on the hunt.
The annual Trail of Treats in Vastwood Park in Hancock County was hosted as a drive-thru event. People handing out candy were required to wear a mask and gloves. Trick-or-treaters and their guardians were requested to wear masks.
Outdoor Easter egg hunts and other scavenger hunts occurred in multiple communities in 2021.
Owensboro’s Fourth of July fireworks were set off at multiple locations across the city to prevent large crowds from gathering in one place.
To replace the W.C. Handy Blues and Barbecue Festival in 2020, local organizers created Handy to Go, a virtual version of the festival involving alcohol and food truck vendors, and a QR code linked to a curated playlist of the artists originally set to perform.