Owensboro is the county seat of Daviess County in north-central Kentucky. Originally part of Shawnee territory, settlers first arrived there in the 1700s. The city played an important role in the Civil War era and served as a key river port that continues to this day. The city’s environs also gave birth to the Bluegrass sound in American music, starting in the 1930s and 1940s. Numerous festivals are held in the downtown area, including the National Barbecue Festival and many national and regional amateur sports competitions. The site of the new Owensboro-Daviess County Convention Center on the Ohio River bank was previously occupied by the Executive Inn which accommodated performances by many of the most popular singers of its era. To serve this wide range of activities, programs and events, as well as to provide an important economic development tool, the city undertook the development of a new convention center which includes over 40,000 ft² of exhibition space, nearly 30,000 ft² of meeting space and extensive public lobbies, as well as service and support facilities.