EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – On April 8, 2024, a Monday afternoon will turn dark as the path of totality from the total solar eclipse moves across the Tri-State. Events for the eclipse are coming together as the Evansville region prepares for more visitors than previously expected.
“We had always, locally, expected somewhere between 50,000 to 80,000,” says Alexis Berggren, President and CEO of Explore Evansville. “But now we are definitely leaning into that 80,000. We think we are going to be on the high side.”
Berggren says the state of Indiana has increased their number of predicted visitors from 500,000 to 600,000, which would make Indiana the second most-visited state for the eclipse behind Texas. Local first responders say traffic will likely be at a stand-still, and could be worse than traffic during the 2017 solar eclipse.
“As soon as the event’s over, a lot of people, like any large event you go to, they want to leave the moment it’s over,” explains Sgt. Erik Nilssen with the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Department. “Unfortunately, our roads are not designed for that kind of traffic load. So people need to prepare. Maybe it’s a good idea to grab lunch before you try and head out of town, because places like (Highway) 41, I-69, I-64, those can get overloaded pretty quickly.”
Berggren adds, “Unfortunately we can’t boil it down to one thing, and that’s what’s so amazing about these committee meetings and these larger meetings, is you see how one event impacts every other preparation, right? So it’s really just that planning, making sure that people are starting to think about where they are going to be that day.”
Lodging accommodations are already taking place. Area campgrounds, such as Burdette Park in Evansville and Audubon State Park in Henderson, are already sold out. Berggren expects hotel numbers to begin surging in early 2024.
“We’ll hit the holiday season and we might see that slow down,” says Berggren. “I think the first part of 2024 is going to be really fun. We’re looking forward to it.”