Throwback Thursday – Remembering Downtown Bowling Green outdoor events

As pandemic restrictions continue to lift, events are returning. Downtown Bowling Green has played host to events of all kinds for the past 200 years, anything from parades along Main Street, to rallies at Fountain Square, and Circus Square concerts. The BB&T Concerts in the Park series is celebrating its 41st season this year and kicks off later this month.

Since Fountain Square’s inception in the late 1700s, it’s been a bustling hub. Anyone making the trip “to town” needed to stop on the square to rest their horses, probably had business at the courthouse, brought their livestock to sell, or had shopping to do. The square became a natural place to congregate.

There was a nice flat patch of green a few blocks away from Fountain Square ideal for traveling outdoor performance groups and circuses whenever they rolled into town. These traveling troupes were the namesake for the future Circus Square Park. Around the early 1900s, it was common to hear of the Hobson family hosting circus stage actors at their Riverview home in between performances.

Societal changes brought temperance and suffragette parades to Fountain Square in the early 1910s. These believers in their causes rallied against the consumption of alcohol. Women called for the right to vote. Bowling Green celebrated the armed forces with military parades for both World Wars.

Victorian teenagers liked cooling off by the fountain. Couples canoodled on the benches. Families picnicked at the park. Summertime in Kentucky was the perfect landscape for an afternoon social or evening concert. The Concerts in the Park event started in 1980, and now in its 41st season and led by the Downtown Redevelopment Authority, we welcome its return after a year hiatus. Many events looked much different over the past year because of pandemic restrictions, or like these concerts, didn’t happen at all.

We look forward to seeing more hustle and bustle on the squares again.