Evansville's Rich Mix of the Arts Rivals Big-City Neighbors'

By Laura Hill on April 28, 2011 at 2:35 pm EST


Whether your tastes run to Brahms, ballet or brats on a bun, Evansville’s rich cultural mix has something to offer.


While the community enjoys its small-city reputation, Evansville’s arts scene stacks up admirably to its big-city neighbors and has earned the city a reputation as a cultural oasis.


“Evansville is a very civilized community that truly appreciates a good quality of life and enjoys the finer things in life,” says Glenn Roberts, executive director of the

Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra

, the largest arts institution in the tri-state area.


“I think it all goes back to being a community that is very tight-knit and has a strong work ethic, truly an all-American city.”


Roberts’ organization has become a cherished Evansville institution since it was founded in 1934. The 80-member orchestra presents seven classical concerts a year, four pops concerts and a number of other special concerts, all well attended. One secret to the orchestra’s success, Roberts says, is its user-friendly outreach to the community. Their


offers advice on when to clap, what to wear and where to cough, while audience members often enjoy special treats – like dessert – at concerts.

Evansville’s Civic Theater

, the recently renovated

Victory Theatre

, and

Dance Theatre

enjoy wide popularity in the community, as do five top-notch museums, including a new

African American History museum

and the interactive, innovative

Koch Family Children’s Museum

of Evansville.


“It’s a completely immersible expe­rience,” says Laura Libs of the

Evansville Convention & Visitors Bureau

. “The children’s museum is fabulous. I’m not easily impressed, but it’s just remarkable.”


Family fun is tops on the agenda at Evansville’s many public festivals. The Freedom Festival, held at the end of June each year, features hydroplane races along the riverfront and air shows over its four-day run. The West Side Nut Club Festival is a weeklong food fair each October featuring 125 food booths and 150,000 eager eaters. Each year a new and unique food is featured, from scorpion suckers to rattlesnake stew.


“Our newest festival is the Dragon Boat Festival, something we hope will become an annual tradition, too,” Libs says. “We use actual dragon boats that you might see in China, and three or four teams compete in the boats on the river. We hope this will become a truly international festival, involving food vendors and businesses from the Hispanic, African-American and Asian communities here.”


Why so many successful events on the Evansville calendar?


“The population here is very accepting and supportive. So the events are well attended,” Libs says. “Plus, we are blessed to have a corporate community that supports these events – and that’s a primary reason they work.”


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