The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, May. 27, 2018


Music in Van Wert

By: Paul Hoverman


A couple weeks ago, I talked about the first half of the Fountain Park Summer Music Series concerts. This week, I would like to take you through the second half of the summer series of concerts. I always use the July 4 weekend as a point of reference for the middle of the summer series. A couple weeks ago, I left off at June 29 with the Lima Symphony Pops Orchestra giving an “American Salute” concert. That is the Friday preceding July 4.

We pick up with the second half of the summer series on July 13 with a band with a funny name: The Cyrkle. Now the name isn’t so funny, but the spelling certainly is unusual. This is a band that some may recall from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. More familiar than their name is probably two very notable hit songs of their time: “Turn Down Day” and “Red Rubber Ball.”  Perhaps even more notable than their hit songs is that their popularity got them invited to open for The Beatles on their last tour of the U.S.

I got word that some of the boys in the band had decided to put the band together again. Their songs are certainly great summer songs. They will also cover many more popular songs from the early soft rock era and I think will create a memorable concert for Fountain Park. It’s always great to meet the real artists who sang songs that became legendary over the years!

The following week on July 20, we welcome a tribute band that just had to be a perfect selection for any outdoor summer concert. Summer Breezin’ is a talented tribute to two very popular bands whose music has become mainstream to every generation of music lovers: America and Seals & Croft. The hit songs from these two soft rock bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s will have everyone clapping and dancing into the night. The image of “Summer Breeze” and “Ventura Highway” will certainly put you in the summer mood!

She has been called the new “Coalminer’s Daughter.” Katlyn Baker will be in concert on July 27.  If you love current female country music, you will love getting to know this young country singer/songwriter who hails from Wise County, Virginia. From what I hear and can see, you may someday be saying, “I saw Katlyn Baker play in Fountain Park, Van Wert!”  She may just be the next Loretta Lynn of country music.

The first Friday in August will feature the Van Wert Area Community Band in concert before we return with a huge Fountain Park finale.

“Remember When Rock Was Young” starring Craig A Meyer with Almost Elton John and The Rocket Band. This will be a great way to finish the summer in Fountain Park. Craig is one of the most respected tribute singers of Elton John’s music. He will be behind a grand piano and dressed in all the flashy outfits we have come to expect from Elton John.

I can’t begin to name all the No. 1 hit songs Elton John made famous. Although Elton John is still actively singing, he recently announced his final tour, appropriately called “Farewell Yellow Brick Road.” Tickets for these final concerts are going for extraordinary prices, but you can get a great concert of all John’s wonderful music for free!

I had the pleasure of hearing and meeting Craig S. Meyer and The Rocket Band in New York City this past January. After hearing him, I introduced myself to him and said don’t be surprised if you someday end up playing Van Wert, Ohio. He is from California, but said he would love to come to Van Wert. I think you’ll be glad he did on August 10 in Fountain Park as we bring the summer to an exciting close.

So, there you are. That’s the second half of the 2018 Fountain Park Summer Music Series. All the concerts begin at 7 p.m. Non-profit organizations will be serving food, drinks and refreshments out of the Rotary concession building by 5:30 p.m. Bring your own lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy these fun concerts in Fountain Park. The Van Wert County Foundation brings all this for you to enjoy with cooperation of the Van Wert City Parks & Recreation.

The Evergreen Garden Club is already working to make the park a beautiful and enjoyable place to experience our summer concerts. We thank them and the City Parks & Recreation for providing a great venue for our concerts.  Spread the word and let’s fill Fountain Park on Friday nights this summer!


POSTED: 05/17/18 at 9:20 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

The lid has been closed on the planning of the 2018-19 Niswonger Performing Arts Center season and I am excited to share with you who is coming to Van Wert!  Although programming is a nearly year-long activity, the past six months have been in real earnest.

Dates have been set to get information to our marketing team to begin creative work on our season catalog, unveiling video, and set sponsors. Many other details need to be taken care of before our announcement, but we have a timeline we are working and on Tuesday, June 5, we will unveil our new season at the Niswonger PAC. That is only four weeks away, so stay tuned for more information!

Meanwhile, other musical events are occurring around our area. The Van Wert Area Boychoir is still alive and well. New director Philip Winfield of Delphos has the boys prepped for a concert on Sunday, May 13, at 3 p.m., in the sanctuary of Trinity United Methodist Church in Van Wert. The group’s spring performance is entitled “Freedom: A Salute to American Liberty.”

The boys will perform numerous patriotic numbers including favorite hymns and new songs inspired by our national freedom. The Boychoir sings for a free-will donation and refreshments will be served immediately following the performance.

Incorporated in 2004, the Van Wert Area Boychoir is open to all Van Wert area boys in grades 3-6. Their mission is admirable in that it seeks to provide opportunities for boys of all backgrounds and abilities to participate in a quality musical, cultural, and educational experience. Director Winfield is accompanied by Melissa Clay and Larry Taylor assists as arranger and technical director.

Many of the school music programs have been presenting spring programs. The Van Wert High School bands just celebrated 90 years with a commissioned piece of music at their spring concert. They also received a “superior” rating at state contest this spring. Congratulations to Director Robert Sloan and the Van Wert band students! I just attended the Lincolnview MS/HS Choir concert and it was noted that Stacie Korte took over a high school choir 23 years ago that had 18 singers. Today, they have nearly 80 singers and again received a “superior” rating at state contest. Congratulations, Mrs. Korte and the Lincolnview singers!  There are good things happening at Crestview with their bands and choirs, too. We are in good shape in Van Wert County.

It’s hard to believe that in just 3½ weeks we will be in Fountain Park with Phil Dirt & the Dozers on June 1. It will be Peony Festival weekend and there will be plenty of things to see and do that opening weekend of our first Fountain Park Summer Music Series concert. And don’t forget that the Van Wert Area Community Band will be in Fountain Park the week before on a warm and beautiful Friday, May 25.  All the Fountain Park concerts begin at 7 p.m.


POSTED: 05/10/18 at 7:43 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

We have set a timeline of about four weeks to have our announcement of the 2018-19 Niswonger season.  Our official unveiling will be on June 5 at noon in the Niswonger PAC.  Once again, it will be the culmination of about seven months of work including attending booking conferences, committee meetings, thousands of emails, phone calls, and hours of planning and negotiations.  So, we are extremely excited to make the announcement.  There are some tremendous concert experiences we can hardly wait to let you know about!

Until then, we are busy making contacts with businesses, corporations, and individuals who wish to team with us as supporters. They will get recognition of that support in front of the thousands of patrons who will visit the Niswonger next season. Our list of supporting and presenting sponsors has been growing exponentially over the past few years.

We have contacted those who were aboard last season and most of them are anxious to jump aboard once again. For that, we are extremely grateful! I have had numerous business owners and individuals come to me and ask about how they might be able to support a certain concert. If you have ever thought about doing this, please feel free to contact me or our marketing team of Tafi Stober and Chris Fader. We would be happy to share our exciting new season with you and see if one or more concerts/events might ignite your passion to support.

Each year, we look to offer variety in our programming. I am sure we have accomplished this once again this year. Children’s shows, country, rock, classical, speakers, Broadway and stage productions, Christian, comedy, jazz, and adult contemporary will fill our new season once again. Nearly 80 percent of our events will be brand new, but there are just a few we felt we had to bring back due to overwhelming demand.

We realize that the opportunity to get the exact, or close to exact, seats you want for the shows you want, is an important consideration to many. We have structured a membership program that allows you to jump to the front of the line. This not only gives you an early buying opportunity, but also helps us to continue bringing in world-class entertainment for everyone to enjoy.  

Niswonger personal and corporate memberships are currently being sold by our marketing sales team and at the box office. Different levels allow earlier buying opportunities as well as other valuable benefits.  I realize these benefits help make your Niswonger experience even more special and we so much appreciate the support.

The brand for our new season is “Igniting Lives with Star Powered Entertainment, Inspiration, & Education!” I am sure once you learn about the new season line-up, you will become ignited to get your tickets.

We are also looking for ways to bring the arts to those who feel they cannot afford it.  We will soon be announcing a new program we call “Share the Stars” that will help the less fortunate experience the entertainment, inspiration and education that comes from Niswonger events.  Stay tuned for more information about this unique opportunity.

If you have enjoyed your time at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center this past decade and would like to see it continue for future generations, I would love to talk with you about how you could get involved in our Endowment Fund set up at The Van Wert County Foundation.  It has already become a significant contributor to our operations and programming, but we would love to add others to that and strengthen our future even more.

Next week, I will get back to Fountain Park and tell you about the second half of that line-up. Remember to pick up a brochure at the Niswonger while you are visiting our box office, or stop by The Van Wert County Foundation when you are downtown Van Wert.  The summer series is also on several websites of partners we team with, including The VWCF, the NPAC, City Parks & Recreation, CVB (Convention Visitors Bureau,) Chamber of Commerce, and Main Street Van Wert. Also check us out on Facebook.


POSTED: 05/04/18 at 9:03 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Well, we can’t seem to get into spring, so let’s try jumping right into summer! The Van Wert County Foundation sponsored Fountain Park Summer Music Series is all set.  Plans for eight fun and exciting concerts are being made to go with two Van Wert Community Concert Band concerts.  Friday nights will light up Fountain Park once again for the 17th consecutive year. It really is hard to believe that an entire generation of young people has been gathering in Fountain Park for fun and music on Friday nights for as long as they can remember.

This year, we welcome old friends back to Van Wert as Phil Dirt & the Dozers return to kick off the season and take part in the Peony Festival activities. It’s been five years since the Dozers have entertained a Fountain Park audience in Van Wert. They continue to make great music and provide an amazingly fun time for music lovers around the country. They re-create some of the very best of classic rock and roll music over the past several decades. This concert will be on a sunny and balmy June 1 in Fountain Park.  You can expect a huge crowd with many food vendors and activities surrounding the park.  The Peony committee will be serving food and drinks in the Rotary concession booth.

After a week off, we welcome Endless Summer Band on June 15. This is a band I have been trying to get back to Fountain Park for some time following their enormously popular debut in 2010.  They hail from Indianapolis and were voted the No. 1 party band as “Best Music in Indiana!”  They are very popular at wedding receptions and festivals throughout not only the Midwest, but the entire U.S.  I added a horn section to allow the band to expand their repertoire with everything from Sinatra to Chicago to Bruno Mars. Food will be provided by the Van Wert Eastern Star District.

For those who are fans of Southern Gospel and Christian Country music, we are bringing two popular groups to the park on June 22. The Tacketts, starring Van Wert native and former Miss Ohio, Sarah (Evans) Tackett will lead off the concert with an hour of their style of Country Gospel which has taken them to the stage of the Grand Ole’ Opry in Nashville just last year. After an intermission, The Kingsmen Quartet will take the stage to provide their flavor of Southern Gospel music.  Over the years, this quartet from the mountains of western North Carolina has become one of the most beloved and innovative groups in Christian music. Portal 220 ministry will appropriately serve food this night.

Our Independence Day celebration of America concert with the Lima Symphony Pops Orchestra will be on June 29. It will be a few days before most start celebrating the July 4 holiday, but you can bet Maestro Crafton Beck will pull out all the stops as this may be his swan song with the symphony in Fountain Park as he announced his retirement from the Lima Symphony following the 2018-19 season.  This is always a popular concert filled with all types of pop music as well as patriotic tunes to stir your soul.  The Van Wert Cattlemen’s Association will be grilling in the park for your dining pleasure.

This takes us to the half-way point of the summer. I will pick up here next week to feature the rest of our concerts in Fountain Park. Don’t forget that there is a new audience view in the park as we removed the slope in the middle to hopefully increase the experience for all audience members.  We hope you enjoy it!

I also want to mention that the Van Wert Area Community Concert Band under the direction of Richard Sherrick will warm you up to our Van Wert County Foundation sponsored concerts by presenting their first concert of the season on Friday, May 25.

All concerts begin at 7 p.m. and are in cooperation with the Van Wert City Parks & Recreation. Food is normally ready by 5:30 p.m. for you to enjoy while visiting with friends and neighbors you haven’t see all winter long. Help us spread the word to all. Full descriptions can be found at the websites of The Van Wert County Foundation, Niswonger Performing Arts Center, Main Street Van Wert and the City Parks & Recreation. So, it’s easy for your out-of-town friends to check us out too.  Brochures are also available at many local businesses.

I hope this brings sunshine and warmth to all of you.  We could all use it!


POSTED: 04/27/18 at 8:39 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Everyone knows that the Niswonger Performing Arts Center presents concerts and that The Van Wert County Foundation presents concerts in the summertime. This is our main activity and certainly the most visible, but the impact of these two entities is felt throughout our community in so many other ways.

As I look at recent activities and also recapping the entire year, I think of the impact we have had in our community through the arts. The concerts provide a nice release with entertainment and provide cultural and social activities for many people. Beyond that, what do we do?

I just finished meeting with seven non-profit organizations who will be serving food with our Fountain Park Summer Music Series concerts.  They are afforded the opportunity to make money to help support their valuable missions throughout our communities; and it’s all because we bring people to Fountain Park for a fun Friday night of music and relaxation.  I know you will support them by patronizing their food stand.  It all works together to strengthen our communities through the arts.

We just finished teaming with the Van Wert County Ministerial Association and the State Attorney General’s office to bring MLB great Darryl Strawberry and his wife Tracey to the Niswonger PAC to speak about how to deal with the opioid crisis.  The faith based organizations are accepting the call of our government officials to help with what they cannot.  We were more than happy to assist.

The Niswonger also provides a professional facility and operation for worthwhile endeavors such as Community Health Professionals Ohio Has Talent, numerous dance recitals throughout the spring and District and local school concerts, musicals, and plays.  Many enjoyed the very entertaining production of Mary Poppinsby the Van Wert High School Drama Department this past weekend.  It was certainly enhanced by the facility and staff at the Niswonger teaming with the school drama and music departments.

The Niswonger also hosted the Rotary District 6600 Four-Way Speech Contest this past Saturday morning. High school students, parents, grandparents, school officials, and Rotary dignitaries from the district, stretching from Elyria, Oberlin, and Toledo, to St. Marys and Van Wert, saw and were amazed with our Niswonger facility.

Van Wert is certainly richer in so many ways because of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center and The Van Wert County Foundation. When I think that none of this, or very little of this, existed a few years ago, I sometimes shake my head at how far we have come in such a short amount of time. Those short sighted people who said we didn’t need this facility a few years ago would have now denied thousands of children, youth and adults of all these rich opportunities.

I just finished meeting with a group of educators from Van Wert and Paulding counties who would like to team with the Niswonger and Central Insurance to bring motivational speakers in for students and teachers. We are thrilled to be a part of this endeavor to strengthen our communities once again.

Because of The Van Wert County Foundation, we have an ever expanding Wassenberg Art Center that just broke ground for even bigger footprint with the outdoor glow park. Franklin Park is continuing its construction and will be in full use this summer. This is due to many partners, among them once again is The Van Wert County Foundation and Scott Niswonger.

Van Wert is on the move and the arts are a big driving force. The Van Wert County Foundation and the Niswonger Performing Arts Center are proud to be making Van Wert a strong and vibrant community.  We look forward to keeping the pedal to the metal as we are nearly ready to wrap up another season and announce a new 2018-19 Niswonger season.

The 2017-18 season wraps up this Saturday at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center with Bostyx — the music of Boston and STYX. This 7:30 p.m. concert has a few seats remaining, but the hall will be packed for this big season finale. We hope you can be a part of it!


POSTED: 04/19/18 at 8:11 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

There were a number of ways I could go with this week’s column, but I have chosen to reflect on the power music can have on not only audience members, but also the performer.  This Saturday evening, April 14, at 7:30 p.m., the Lima Symphony Orchestra will be giving its final concert of the season.  The theme of the concert is “Music is Life.”  This could take your thoughts in many directions, but once you hear and get acquainted with the music, it all makes sense.

The concert begins with The Moldau by Bedrich Smetana, which depicts beautiful scenes of the Bohemian landscape and evokes a proud sense of nationalism. One can picture the beauty of the green rolling hills and the shimmering, flowing waters as one listens to this gorgeous tone poem.  

Throughout the 19th century, feelings of nationalism swept across much of Europe. People hungered not only for political freedom, but also for cultural experiences that would reflect their ethnic heritage. Nowhere were these sentiments stronger than in Bohemia, the birthplace of Smetana (part of the Czech Republic today, Bohemia was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the early 1800s).

The Lima Symphony Chorus then takes the stage to perform with the orchestra’s strings in the Sunrise Mass by composer Ola Gjeilo.  have not yet heard this piece, but am told it is deeply moving and beautiful. Singing in the chorus are two Van Wert residents: Paula LaRue and Seth Baker.

The last piece of music on the concert is Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and is really the one that inspired me to write this column today. Originally written as a piano piece, Ravel orchestrated it and I believe brings out even more color and power than the piano alone could create. Even my wife agrees with me on this!  

As a performer on trumpet in the symphony, I have been preparing my part for this enormously powerful work for the past three weeks. In order to get the feel for the piece, it often helps to listen to and even play along with some of the best in the world. Last night, thanks to YouTube, I was able to play along with the Chicago Symphony. It doesn’t get much better than that!

As I was playing along with the Chicago Symphony recording, I got a feeling of power and inspiration that one can only experience as a performer. The next best would be as an audience member. It takes an excellent performance of a piece, but it really starts with the masterful work of a composer; in this case, Mussorgsky. The music takes you through a musical art gallery ending the majestic “Great Gate of Kiev”.

If you would like to experience the exhilarating feeling of this great music, I would invite you to the Lima Symphony Orchestra concert this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Crouse Memorial Hall in downtown Lima. I am sure you can pick up tickets at the door and I think you will be glad you did. I should also mention that my good friend and former Van Wert High School Band director Tony Alessandrini will be playing trombone in the concert.

Also on the docket this weekend is the Van Wert High School musical, Mary Poppins. I understand it will be a delightful performance. Many talented students have worked long and hard and will be joined with a pit orchestra ready to entertain you. There are three performances starting Thursday night and ending on Saturday night. Tickets are available at the Niswonger Box Office.

While at the box office, don’t forget the music of Bostyx, which finishes the Niswonger season on April 21. We just hit a thousand seats sold, so tickets are getting scarce, but if you hurry you can still get in for this big finale concert featuring the music of Styx and Boston. Bostyx is led by lead vocalist and guitarist David Victor, formerly of the band, Boston.

Now, that’s a threesome to choose from: the power of fantastic symphonic music, the entertainment of a classic musical, and the sheer enjoyment of classic rock at its best. Take your pick, or hit them all!


POSTED: 04/12/18 at 7:51 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

We are getting to the point where the Niswonger Performing Arts Center season is coming to an end, at least as far as our scheduled performances are concerned. It would be easy to think that late April and the month of May are times of inactivity at the PAC. Our final scheduled concert of this season is Bostyx on April 21. It will be a great concert to finish the season, but we will actually be quite busy after that point.

There are many concerts and events during this time that actually bring thousands of people to the Niswonger, many who have not yet been there before. The Van Wert High School Drama Department is presenting Mary Poppins, its spring musical, on April 12, 13, and 14. I understand it will be quite a production. Tickets are available at the Niswonger box office.

The Van Wert bands and choirs are also preparing for spring concerts, which will all occur in the Niswonger Music Hall.

Once we hit the month of May, dance recitals that draw thousands of locals and visitors to Van Wert take over the weekends. This year, Kim Hohman’s DanceWorks of Van Wert, Kristina’s Dance Escape from St. Marys, and (new to the Niswonger this year) the Boyd Dance Studio from New Bremen will bring thousands of first-time visitors to town.

Meanwhile, my staff is running these events while I am busy working on a new season and planning for summer concerts in Fountain Park. Our marketing team is putting together sponsors who wish to team with the Niswonger and learn about the new artists coming in 2018-19. They are also busy selling memberships for those interested in supporting and receiving Niswonger benefits.

This aptly bridges the gap from PAC to Fountain Park, which kicks off Friday, June 1, with Phil Dirt & the Dozers as part of the Peony Festival. Then it’s on to most Fridays in Fountain Park with exciting entertainment, music, food and fun!  The full line-up of Fountain Park concerts is available at  Look under the heading “Impact” and click on “arts” for a full lineup and description of each concert. Brochures and posters are also available at The Foundation office, 138 E. Main St., as well as the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

Food vendors have been selected for the Fountain Park concerts and they will be notified and making their selection of concert in the near future.  Hopefully, we won’t need to be shoveling snow from the park by the time we get started!

I want to mention one last event that will be occurring at the Niswonger on April 15 at 7 p.m.  Former Major League Baseball star Darryl Strawberry will be a featured speaker at the Epidemic of Hope event sponsored by the Ohio Attorney General’s office, the Van Wert Ministerial Association, and the Niswonger PAC.

Strawberry and his wife, Tracy, have traveled the country telling his story of overcoming drug addiction that ended his once brilliant baseball career. Free tickets for the event are available at the box office as well as participating churches. We all know of the terrible opioid crisis that our country and especially Ohio has been affected by. It is the hope that Darryl Strawberry’s story will have a positive impact on especially the youth of our area.

Everyone is welcome to attend this event on April 15 at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m.  There will be other events occurring throughout the Van Wert, Paulding, and Mercer County area, leading up to the Niswonger event. It is a pleasure to use our facility to help make our community a better place for everyone to live, raise families, and be entertained in safe environments.


POSTED: 04/05/18 at 7:56 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

It is amazing to think we have just one more concert remaining in our 11th season at the Niswonger!  After a busy last couple of weeks, we are down to one concert: Bostyx on April 21. It has been a memorable season with many successful events and concerts. Many of them have been sold while others have left some seats empty, only to have people wishing they had attended.  

At any rate, a big “thank you” once again is due to all of you who have been loyal supporters with your attendance and interest. We have seen such tremendous growth since our inception. Each year I think we have hit our limits we seem to surpass them, with more and more interest. Although we still pick up some locals who have never been to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, we see our impact stretching further and further away. We now have over 18,000 people on our mailing list, with patrons coming from several states and quite often from Canada — and even recently, Germany.  Go figure!

As we prepare for another new season starting in September, I want to encourage you to consider two last things as part of this season. As I mentioned, Bostyx is coming on April 21. If you are a fan of classic rock, and especially the music of the bands Boston and Styx, then this is a night for you. I had Bostyx in Fountain Park a few years back when they got started and I still remember the crowd reaction. It’s always fun to watch the audience at Fountain Park toward the end of a concert. The sun starts to set and the band plays on into the night and the crowd really starts enjoying themselves. This was certainly the case with Bostyx; so much so that I thought people would pay to see and hear them again indoors. I guess I am right because we have sold nearly 1,000 tickets for their April 21 concert at the Niswonger. A few seats remain, but hurry!

David Victor is the headline lead singer and adds a lot of credibility to the group as he is a recent lead singer for Boston on their national tours. So, if you have always liked listening to the vocals of the great Boston hit songs, you will love hearing Victor and the backup singers in Bostyx. They really capture the authentic sound of both Boston and Styx.

If classic rock isn’t your favorite, and even if it is, I encourage you to come to a free event at the Niswonger on April 15. We are teaming with the Van Wert County Ministerial Association to bring in former New York Mets Hall of Famer and MLB All-Star Darryl Strawberry and his wife, Tracey, to the area. Darryl and his wife will be speaking about how he has overcome drug, legal, and marital problems since his retirement from baseball. He credits his faith in Jesus Christ for saving his life in so many ways.

The opioid problem in our area, as well as throughout the country is just rampant.  The Strawberry’s feel they can help young kids today with their problems with a program they call “Hope Worth Finding.”  There will be a free event for youth where Darryl and Tracey Strawberry will be speaking in the Niswonger Music Hall at 4 p.m. on April 15.  Then an open to the public event will be at 7 p.m.  Free tickets may be obtained at the Niswonger box office and some participating churches.

The Ohio Attorney General’s office is helping bring this event to our area, as well as some caring organizations and churches throughout our area of Van Wert, Mercer, and Paulding counties. I encourage you to attend this inspiring event and especially encourage youths to attend. We are very pleased to be teaming with the ministerial association, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, and other partners to help make our communities better.

This is the last call for non-profit organizations to get their names to The Van Wert County Foundation if they wish to be included in the drawing for food vendors at Fountain Park Summer Music concerts. The drawing will be held Monday, April 2. There will be much more on the summer concerts to come.

Happy Easter to all of you!  If you are a believer, you know that He is risen indeed.  


POSTED: 03/29/18 at 7:58 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Well, it happened this past Saturday- the sleeper concert of the year.  It seems one occurs once every year or two.  This time it was Chloe Agnew and the Atlanta Pops.  No matter how much publicity you put out, people don’t recognize the name and therefore make the judgement they aren’t interested in seeing it because they don’t think they will enjoy it.

Here is how a Niswonger volunteer explained her experience in a Facebook posting:

“The Atlanta Pops Orchestra performed with Chloe Agnew. If you were like me, I did not recognize the talent names and I usually turn away from the word orchestra, but what a mistake I would have made if I would have volunteered and not stayed for the performance. Chloe Agnew is a young Irish woman who started her career at age 11. She was a Celtic Woman for 10 years and probably has the most beautiful voice I have ever heard. Not only did we share in the music of the Atlanta Pops but an Irish tenor who sang with her so beautifully was also part of the concert. This truly was a wonderful unexpected show. And to those PAC-goers that passed on last night’s performance, you really passed on a great show. What I have learned from this experience is that I should research carefully the performance before I disregard it.“

I think it’s better to hear the sermon preached from different people occasionally rather than from the same old preacher all the time. After all, I probably am biased because I booked them!

Our mission at the Niswonger is to inspire, entertain, and educate. I feel no better gratitude than when we are able to introduce an audience to new performers they may have never known. There are so many more talented (and entertaining) performers out there than what we see and realize. I guess this is the education part of our mission. And for those who were there, it was so inspiring too!

There will be more to come and I hope you will give some of the concerts a chance, even when you don’t think you’ll like it because you don’t know them.  Most often, you will be like this PAC volunteer and be glad you did.

It may not feel like it, but spring is here! The Fountain Park Summer Music Series has been announced and The Van Wert County Foundation office is taking names of non-profit organizations wanting to be considered to serve food at one of its concerts. Call 419.238.1743, stop by at 138 E. Main St., or email me at to have your organizations name included in the lottery. The selection will be done on April 2 and names will be received throughout this month.

Next up at the Niswonger? Kenny G this Saturday. It is sold out, but I hope you enjoy the concert if you have a ticket. You might try checking when the box office opens at 6:30 p.m. before the concert. Performer holds are sometimes released and you could get an excellent seat. No guarantees, but a chance!


POSTED: 03/21/18 at 6:42 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

This past weekend was the culmination of a lot of music preparation for many local high school bands and choirs. The Ohio Music Educators Association District large group contest was hosted by Van Wert High School and the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. Those bands and choirs who received overall superior ratings are now eligible to compete at state level.

Congratulations to the Van Wert High School Symphonic Band, Crestview Concert Band, and Lincolnview Concert Choir. These three ensembles received an overall superior rating, with the VWHS Band receiving a clean sweep of superior ratings from all four adjudicators. Wayne Trace High School Band and Choir also received superior ratings.

This is similar to a midterm grade for each band member. One of the critical focuses of education these days is working together as team members. I can’t think of a better way to create an educational environment where team work is more vital than in a band or choir. Each individual must do their part to make the cumulative effort a success. Months and months of preparation go into this one performance and then you all get judged and critiqued by a panel of professionals.

The value of music in our schools is so vital when approached and taught in the proper manner. Teamwork is so important because each musician has a part to play in the final product — a superior performance.  Not only do the students get graded, but the teacher plays a vital role in the final product through their performance of conducting, but especially in their preparation and teaching of the students.  Not many teachers are required to, nor have the opportunity to put their students on public display to show what they have learned. One would be amazed at the amount of progress made individually and corporately by bands and choirs from day one to the performance day.

I hope politicians and administrators realize the great value of music in our schools, when properly taught and directed. I know that preparing kids for the “real world” and eventual employment after schooling is one of the most important responsibilities our schools have. One of the world’s largest and most innovative employers, Google, looks for young people who have artistic and musical backgrounds because they are problem solvers. They have had to work as a team in many cases, and figure out how they are going to make things work.  I know this to be a fact as my daughter, a music performance major in college, is a team leader for Google.

Robert Sloan, VWHS Band director; Stacie Korte, Lincolnview Choir director; and Jason Lozer, Crestview Band director; are doing great jobs at teaching our young people a very important skill. Congratulations!  I know there are a lot of obstacles to overcome in public schools in order to accomplish what these teachers have done. I did it for six years and I know the job hasn’t gotten any easier since the 1980s. So, if you see one of these teachers, congratulate them on raising the level for our young kids.

This Saturday at the Niswonger PAC will be very special with Chloe Agnew and the Atlanta Pops Orchestra. The green will be in full bloom as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It starts at 7:30 p.m. and some tickets are still available. Don’t miss this elegant evening of wonderful music and dance.  And don’t forget that Fort Wayne native Addison Agen, the recent runner-up from NBC’s “The Voice”, will be in concert at the Niswonger on Sunday, March 25. This is a promoter event, but we at the Niswonger are pleased to be a host. Tickets are available for this concert at the Niswonger Box Office.

We are ready to release the line-up for this summer’s Fountain Park Concert Series. Watch the media for this announcement. It will be filled with some crowd favorites from the past as well as many new performers I am sure you will enjoy. Contact The Van Wert County office at 419.238.1743 or email me at if your non-profit organization would like to be considered to serve food at one of the summer concerts sponsored by The Van Wert County Foundation and in cooperation with the Van Wert City Parks and Recreation.


POSTED: 03/17/18 at 6:59 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert