A regional Jehovah’s Witness conference returns to Evansville this month for the first time since 2019, and city tourism officials are eager to welcome back the group.
The conference has a lengthy history in Evansville, dating to the city’s Roberts Stadium years. Local hoteliers and restaurants have been boosted by the group’s summer visits, but in-person meetings were stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials say at least 4,500 attended last weekend’s three-day event at the Ford Center, and another 4,500 are expected for the conference’s second weekend, June 9-11. Guests hail from Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, and Tennessee.
Last weekend, 2,089 local hotel rooms were booked, and “we expect very similar numbers this weekend,” says Alexis Berggren, president and CEO of Explore Evansville. The conference contributed to a 16-percent increase in local hotel occupancy compared to the same weekend last year.
Berggren says the back-to-back weekends of meetings will impact the Evansville region’s economy by about $2.7 million. The Jehovah’s Witness organization is contracted with the Ford Center through 2026, and Berggren is hopeful for an extension.
The theme of this year’s regional Jehovah’s Witness conference is “Exercise Patience!” There is no admission charge for those wishing to attend.