Independence Field at Chautauqua Park – Owensboro RiverDawgs
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71
Independence Field at Chautauqua Park
1200 Bluff Avenue
Owensboro, KY 42303
Year Opened: Unknown
Baseball & Barbecue in Owensboro
Independence Field at Chautauqua Park is the home baseball field of Owensboro High School during the spring but during the summer months, it becomes the home field for the Owensboro RiverDawgs of the Ohio Valley League. The Dawgs debuted in 2018 in the league and captured the league title during its inaugural season.
The small ballpark is situated in Chautauqua Park which features a playground, a swimming pool, and other facilities. Although small by most summer collegiate wood bat leagues in the vicinity, Independence Field provides a small-town vibe for the people of Owensboro to root for during the season that is ideal for the OVL.
The town was home to minor league baseball from 1936-1955 in the Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee Leagues. The Owensboro Oiler's home field Miller Park was considered one of the better facilities in the KITty League but it would be razed following the 1955 season.
The owner of the land that bordered residential housing deemed it to be valuable for a ballpark. A small retail development was built on the ballpark’s spot that today houses a discount store, supermarket, and auto parts store.
Food & Beverage 3
There is a small concession stand at the stadium that offers quite a bit of concession items to satisfy the fans in attendance. Hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, and soft drinks are more than reasonably priced. The ballpark also features a pork chop sandwich, river dawg, and dawg nachos.
The vibe at the games is mellow and the crowds are small, similar to high school or even college baseball in the area. However, the talent on the field is enjoyable for the crowd that assembles to root for the home team.
Independence Field features a synthetic infield that was installed for the 2019 season and an outfield made of natural stuff. A simple scoreboard is situated behind the right field wall and two small aluminum bleacher-style bleachers exist on opposite ends of a small press box situated directly behind home plate.
The sounds that echo throughout the stadium are the sounds from the players on the field, the ball hitting the inside of a glove, and the crack of the bat against the ball. Players in the dugouts are heard cheering and jeering on both sides and the few in the stands show their appreciation with a few cheers and jeers of their own.
Owensboro, Kentucky, has a population of 59,000 and is about 30 miles south of Evansville, Indiana, along the Ohio River. The city itself is known for its style of barbecue that features smoked mutton served with a sauce known as black dip. Various places offer this style of cue that includes Old Hickory Bar-B-Que and Olde South Barbecue, but one place attracts a loyal and national following in town.
Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn offers a lunch and dinner buffet of its award-winning barbecue that includes pork ribs, sliced brisket, and chopped and pulled mutton. The buffet also features fried shrimp, smoked ham slices, turkey and dressing, and homemade burgoo (a stew consisting of vegetables and barbecue meat). There is also an array of delicious desserts of pies, cobblers, and cakes available. Next door to the buffet is a take-out counter along with sauces to go.
There are other places to eat in town that include The Miller House, Lure Seafood & Grille, Bill’s, and Colby’s Fine Foods. The bourbon trail runs through town at O.Z. Tyler Distillery offers tours and free tastings. The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, Owensboro of Fine Arts, and the Museum of Science and History also provides places to see during the day. Smothers Park offers nice views of the riverfront.
The sprinkling of fans in the stands is friends or family members of many of the players out on the field. This is similar to other smaller summer collegiate leagues, but there are a few faithful who are out there supporting the local club; they make their voices heard during the nine innings of play.
Chautauqua Park is located at the edge of downtown and only a few miles from SR 60 which connects with I-165. There is a small parking lot for cars and once inside, the ballpark is small enough that everything you need is almost within your fingertips.
Return on Investment 3
The price of a ticket to a game is $5 and concession prices are fairly reasonable with a hot dog costing $2 and a soda pop the same. A very inexpensive night of baseball in a low-key environment. Owensboro itself offers a few great places to eat, tour, and drink.
Attending a game in Owensboro provides the traveler to enjoy a delicious barbecue meal at Moonlite Bar-B-Q before the game, the lunch buffet is only $11. The food at the ballpark is also very inexpensive and quite tasty, just in case you are still a bit hungry.
The Ohio Valley League offers baseball in nine different small towns in Kentucky and Indiana with many of the fields high school or college fields. The small-town atmosphere, friendly vibes, and great barbecue make Owensboro a nice destination if you find yourself somewhere on the OVL map during June and July.