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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016


Music in Van Wert

By: Paul Hoverman


As we enter the 10th season at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, it’s interesting to look at the top 10 selling concerts thus far. Now granted, we have four weeks before the start of the season and things can, and probably will, change. As example, today was the release of single ticket sales for the Christmas musical, Elf.  It just jumped from No. 7 to No. 2!

Selling trends are always interesting and helpful to learn from and analyze. We talk considerably about how we think a certain show or concert might appeal to buyers as we are planning a season. The proof is always in the pudding, or shall I say ticket sales.

I know many of you who have purchased tickets are oftentimes interested in how certain events are trending.  For those who have not yet pulled the lever, it may prompt you to make your move soon, before getting shut out as result of a sell-out.  So, as of Wednesday, here are the top 10 ticket sellers at the Niswonger.

  1. Andy Williams Christmas featuring the Osmonds and Lennon Sisters — Saturday, December 10, at 7:30 p.m.
  2. Elf the Broadway Musical — Monday, November 21, at 7:30 p.m.
  3. Diamond Rio — Saturday, October 29, at 7:30 p.m.
  4. The Hit Men — Saturday, May 6, at 7:30 p.m. (note: this is part of the Community Concert Series, but can also be purchased separately).
  5. The Time Jumpers featuring Vince Gill — Saturday, February 4, at 7:30 p.m.
  6. REO Speedwagon — Saturday, April 29, at 7:30 p.m.
  7. Doc Severinsen and his Big Band — Sunday, October 23, at 7:30 p.m. (also part of the Community Concert Series, but can be purchased individually).
  8. Mutts Gone Nutts with Comedian Robert Post — Sunday, April 30, at 3 p.m. (also Community Concert Series).
  9. Broadway’s Rain-A tribute to the Beatles — Monday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m.
  10. Guy & Ralna from “The Lawrence Welk Show” — Sunday, September 18, at 2 p.m. (yet another Community Concert Series event).

What we are seeing is there is a logjam of many concerts. Those not making the top 10 are not far behind. A few of these will probably switch over to sellouts before long.

The juggernaut event of the year is likely our gala concert featuring Bernadette Peters with the Boston Pops Orchestra. It has not yet been released, and was not included in our Grand Series or available for Select Series purchases. There are some very special considerations we need to take care of. During the month of December, groups or individuals who either helped build the Niswonger and have been regular supporters throughout our 10 years will have early buying options.

If you want to make sure you do not miss this concert, you might want to talk to the box office about becoming a member of the Niswonger, guaranteeing early buying options. Any remaining tickets will go on sale beginning January 4 for those interested in seeing the concert of the decade featuring Bernadette Peters and The Boston Pops. We wish we could fit everyone in the Van Wert County Foundation Saltzgaber Music Hall, but we are limited to 1,200 seats.

By the way, I just took a peek at Bernadette Peters’ performance schedule. It reads: Royal Festival Hall in London, Manchester Opera House in Manchester, Edinburgh Playhouse in Edinburgh (all three in the United Kingdom), San Diego, California, Charleston, South Carolina, Mesa, Arizona, and a few others before reaching the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert, Ohio. That’s pretty good company!

We are humbled, honored, and indebted to you for the support you have given the Niswonger. Help us spread the good news of Van Wert’s crown jewel to all your friends, neighbors, and family members. We certainly have something to be proud of: “Ten Years of Wow!” at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center!


POSTED: 08/23/16 at 4:03 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

All you have to do is walk outside and you know things are heating up.  I just stepped outside my office and the thermometer downtown said 94.  But even as the days heat up, the evenings have cooled quite nicely.

So it is with our concerts in Van Wert.  As our concerts in Fountain Park come to a cool end this Friday night, things are starting to really heat up with our “Season of Wow!” at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

This Friday, believe it or not, we hold the final concert of Van Wert County Foundation sponsored concerts in Fountain Park. We have kept our biggest concert of the summer for the final one. “The McCartney Years” is a great production and concert of the memorable music of Paul McCartney with the music he made famous with Wings, as well as the classic mega-hits with The Beatles.

There are many Beatles tribute bands, but this one has a unique twist to it.  Led by Canadian musician Yuri Pool, this group has been hailed by Sid Bernstein, the guy who brought The Beatles to North America, as “the best on the scene today!” I’ve actually heard these guys and, as I’ve said before, I didn’t want them to stop playing. I knew every song and they sounded so much like the music of Paul McCartney! Yuri and his band is one you are sure to enjoy.

Plan on coming early and staying late as we sing into the night the songs many of us grew up to and many others you still hear today, regardless of age.

The Red Cross of Van Wert will be serving up food and a special opportunity will be given to donate to a group of civic volunteers interested in making Fountain Park a holiday spectacular this Christmas season by adding decorations to the park.  Bring your spare change and bills so we can make Van Wert an even better place to live and visit.

If we should be so fortunate to do a rain dance and bring in showers that last all day on Friday, the concert will definitely be moved into the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.  A passing shower would not necessitate a move. An all-day or evening rain event could change our plans. I hope we get to celebrate the end to a summer of fun in Fountain Park, but either way, we win!

Actually, the music in Fountain Park will continue as the Van Wert Area Community Concert Band will perform a bonus concert on August 19.  So don’t forget this concert too!  These talented volunteer musicians work hard to put on an entertaining concert of all kinds of band music.  You’ll enjoy them too.

Plans are heating up for the new season at the Niswonger. My staff, board, and our loyal army of volunteers are gearing up for a huge 10th season. Twenty-six concerts, shows, and outstanding speaker events will kick off this September.  We are cleaning, decorating, and making plans for our best season ever!  It will culminate with our gala on April 1 with award-winning singer-actress Bernadette Peters and THE Boston Pops Orchestra.

Check out the season at NPACVW.ORG or pick up a catalog and select your tickets now.  Several concerts and shows are starting to fill up.  It will be an exciting 10th “Season of Wow!” and we don’t want you to miss it.


POSTED: 08/09/16 at 8:31 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Packages come wrapped in all kinds of shapes, sizes and colors.  Musical packages can also come in all kinds of musical flavors, sizes and styles. When it comes to the Tenth Season of Wow! at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio, you can create your very own musical package.  It will give you something to look forward to as we enter the season of autumn and even, dare we say, winter!

Allow me to suggest a few packages that might tempt your musical entertainment taste buds.  If you like the variety pack, you might like the Community Concert Series which offers five concerts for one very economical price, starting at just $75 for all five. Your package price has been made available to you at such an economical price in part by Okuley Unverferth Dentistry, which is the Presenting Sponsor.

In this package you will enjoy Guy & Ralna, who many enjoyed (and still do) from “The Lawrence Welk Show”, appearing from 1970 to 1982. They will present a wonderful America-inspired concert on September 18, accompanied by an 11-piece band.

And speaking of bands, you just can’t miss the opportunity to hear one of the finest big bands of all time and its flashy entertainer and leader: trumpeter extraordinaire Doc Severinsen. His big band and vocalist will be in town October 23.

We then move to musical friends of mine, J. Mark McVey and the Heartland Singers, in a show developed just for our Niswonger audience. It’s called “Broadway & Beyond” and will premiere on March 18.

Following a recent popular appearance on ABC TV’s “The View”, Mutts Gone Nuts will bring its zany cast of critters and be joined by comedian Robert Post to perform April 30 of next year.

The package ends with one of the top selling shows of our season, The Hit Men.  It should not be surprising this concert is leading most others because of the talented cast of musicians and the music they perform. From the golden era of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, The Hit Men are the ones who actually made the music of Frankie Valli, Tommy James, Carly Simon, Jim Croce, Barry Manilow, and many others so popular. They conclude this package by performing on May 6 of 2017.

Now, if you need/want more, then you might want to consider a package of Country music that includes Diamond Rio, The Time Jumpers with Vince Gill, and why not throw in a little Rock with REO Speedwagon?  If you love the theater and want some Broadway right here in Van Wert, then choose the package of “Elf: The Broadway Musical”, 42nd Street, and “RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles”. This package has a lot of glitter and sparkle to it, and is so big it will fill the entire stage!

If you enjoy big bands with the excitement and power of the horns and voices with songs you really enjoy, I suggest “Happy Days Live!”, which features Ralph and Potsie not only singing great songs with a big band, but also lots of laughs from the famous TV show they co-starred in. Also in this big band package would be Doc Severinsen and his big band, along with John Tesh’s “Big Band Christmas”.

If you want an inspirational package, we have a super one for you consisting of Sandi Patty’s “Christmas Blessings Tour”, along with super-tenor David Phelps for a Good Friday concert. Your third part of this package could be anything from Christian Contemporary artist Colton Dixon to Guy & Ralna, and/or Andy Williams’ Christmas Extravaganza, which is selling real well.

Don’t forget to be inspired and entertained by our speaker series, consisting of Jon Gordon, Sam Quinones, and Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame announcer, Marty Brennaman.

Gordon is an exceptional speaker of inspiration, while Sam Quinones will talk about a topic that affects our community very deeply — heroin addiction — and Marty will tell us why this one has belonged to the Reds for so many years.

Every Christmas party has a package that no one knows exactly what to expect of it. Then someone selects it and you wish you had, because it’s filled with something you would have really enjoyed. That’s what I’ll call this last package. In it you’ll find jazz greats Jonathan Butler and Gerald Albright, Vocalosity, and “Artrageous”. You may not know what’s in the package, but I guarantee you, you’ll be glad you selected it once you see and hear it

So, there you have it; a number of packages to select from.  Package your own creation and receive discounts. Call the Niswonger box office at 419.238.NPAC (6722) Tuesday through Fridays, noon-4 p.m., and let them help you select a package you will be happy with the whole year through!

There will not be a concert in Fountain Park this Friday, but we’ll look forward to seeing you the following week on August 12 as we finish another great season off with the “McCartney Years”. It’s a show I know you’ll love because you will know nearly every song from one of the greatest pop composers of all time — Paul McCartney.


POSTED: 08/03/16 at 6:34 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

This Friday night, regardless of whether it rains or not, we are going to turn the brown grass of Fountain Park to Bluegrass … compliments of Feller and Hill & the Bluegrass Buckaroos.  Formed in 2012, Tom Feller and Chris Hill follow in the tradition of such legendary duos as Flatt and Scruggs and the Osborne Brothers. Their music is also heavily influenced by classic country greats Buck Owens and Ray Price.

In 2014, their release of Here Come Feller and Hill … Again! reached No. 2 on Sirius XM”s most played list. They are joined on stage by Bluegrass veterans, Mark Poe and Bobby Davis to create the Bluegrass Buckaroos. Their latest release is a Southern Gospel recording from Tommy Hillpicker records entitled “I firmly promise you.” It is receiving rave reviews in the Gospel Bluegrass circles.

For those who have been waiting for Bluegrass to return to Fountain Park, your wait is over. If we can’t have green grass in the park, we can at least create some Bluegrass in the form of music. Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy a beautiful evening with Feller and Hill & the Bluegrass Buckaroos this Friday night. Phi Beta Psi will be dealing up the food, so I encourage you to support this non-profit organization of ladies who do many good things throughout our community.

I can’t remember having such rave reviews and comments as I had after last Friday’s performer, Chris Higbee. Although we had a good audience, the weather forecast must have scared a few from attending. The evening was actually very pleasant. The heat was an issue for those setting up in the afternoon, but by the start of the show, the sun was setting behind Eggerss Stadium and it became a perfect night for a concert in Fountain Park. If you did miss it, you literally missed seeing a fiddler on the roof in Fountain Park!

This Friday could be another hot day, but pleasant evening.  If you enjoy Bluegrass, Country and/or Gospel music, then I invite you to join your neighbors, friends, and visitors to Fountain Park. It all starts at 7 p.m.

The next week is a bye week for us on August 5. The Van Wert Area Community Concert Band has chosen to perform on August 19, while August 12 is our big summer finale and it features an outstanding concert all ages should enjoy: “The McCartney Years.” You will hear music from Paul McCartney and Wings, as well as the many memorable songs Paul wrote as a member of the Beatles.

If you are still looking for a fun event in Van Wert this weekend, you might head to the fairgrounds on Saturday or Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the Railroad Heritage Days. Model trains and other interesting items will be on display all over the fairground buildings.

Larry Webb just stopped by to pick up some summer concert brochures and told me they have grown to three buildings now at the fairgrounds. This 13-year celebration got its start when we presented the “Singing Trainmen” in Fountain Park.  I’m glad the VW County Historical Society has continued this wonderful event.  Check them out this weekend if you get a chance!

The box office at the Niswonger is still busy as people are packaging three or more shows and concerts and selecting their seats early. There are a number of events leading the ticket sales right now. The Hitmen are a surprise leader in ticket sales, followed by the Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza, REO Speedwagon, The Time Jumpers with Vince Gill, and several others.  Although a few of the earlier concerts have released single tickets to the public, you can purchase any of the 26 by bundling them with two others.

The Gala concert featuring Bernadette Peters opens to the general public on January 4.  Members, Sponsors, and Grand Series supporters will have the opportunity to purchase during December.  Check the catalog or online at NPACVW.ORG for those dates.

The interesting aspect of the Boston Pops performance in Van Wert is that it is the only performance of their tour where you will have the opportunity to see Bernadette Peters with the Pops. Their tour throughout the major cities of the Midwest is the Boston Pops by themselves. To help make our gala extra special, we have combined these two dynamic performers to create a night of “wow!”

There is much to look forward to this year.  Some of it will finish up soon in Fountain Park, but then continue in a major way as we celebrate “Ten Years of Wow!” at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio.


POSTED: 07/27/16 at 6:37 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Last January, I met for the first time a person I had grown up watching on TV.  I imagine you are like me and also watched TV’s “Happy Days”.  It ran from 1974 through 1984 on ABC and was one of the highest rated shows for many of those 11 years.  You remember the gang of Richie Cunningham, Potsie, Ralph Malph, and The Fonz, among others.  They depicted the typical American family growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s.

“Happy Days” was so popular that it launched a number of spin-offs you might recall, such as “Laverne & Shirley”, and “Mork and Mindy” as well as others. The setting was Milwaukee, Wisconsin: not your typical TV setting of today. The theme song “Happy Days” actually replaced the original opening song of Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock.”

Anton Williams (Potsie) and  me.

Anson Williams (Potsie) and me.

For 11 years, “Happy Days” ruled the airwaves and made us laugh. Many of those laughs came from the “three amigos” of Richie, Potsie, and Ralph. Richie was obviously played by Ron Howard, Opie to most of us when he started on TV. Ralph was played by Donnie Most and was often quoted for saying boastfully, “I’ve still got it!” Potsie was played by Anson Williams and could often be heard singing on several episodes.

Back to last January: I was in New York City going from booth to booth looking for talent to bring to the Niswonger and I just happened to come to a booth of one of my agent friends, Tom Fowler of Capital Productions International. Tom said, “Hey, I want you to meet a friend of mine, Anson Williams.” Well, it didn’t take me long to see that I was shaking hands with Potsie himself! We shared a few pleasantries and I told him thanks for all the happy days on TV.  My, how he made my dad laugh! I would love to hear my dad laugh again. Many of you know what I mean. Well, I had the wits to ask Potsie for a picture. The results are what you see above.

Anson was a nice, down-to-earth man and was very approachable. He told me about the stage show he was starting to take on the road with his old friend, Donnie Most (Ralph Malph). He said they have a great time sharing stories and watching film cuts of “Happy Days”, as well as performing music from that era. Ironically, although it was Potsie who sang on the TV show most often, it’s Donnie who has gone on to perform the most (no pun intended) since the TV show went off the air.

Donnie, or Don Most as I think he now prefers to be called, is a very good big band singer and will be accompanied on their stage show with a big band as he and Anson sing music from the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Anson convinced me we should bring this fun show to the Niswonger and now you have the opportunity to see these guys and relive those happy days on our stage come October 1 at 7:30 p.m.

Wouldn’t you know as I was walking out of the Hilton in Manhattan after meeting Anson, who should I see but Don Most standing alone in the lobby? Well, I just had to take the opportunity to meet him, too. So I walked up to him and said I hope to see you in Van Wert, Ohio, next year. He was a bit more timid than Anson, but said, “Thanks, I’ll look forward to it!” We’ll see if he remembers our chance meeting come October 1.

Many tickets have been bought up already through Grand Series and Select Series purchases, but now you can purchase individual tickets for “Happy Days Live!” beginning today (July 20). We still have some great seats available, with tickets starting at just $20, and they can be purchased by calling the box office, stopping by, or online at NPACVW.ORG.  Come October 1, I’m sure you’ll want to say, “Goodbye gray skies, hello blue” and get some laughs at the Niswonger with “Happy Days Live!” Potsie and Ralph will be expecting you!

This Friday night in Fountain Park will be an exciting and fun one. Country fiddler Chris Higbee (formerly of Poverty Neck Hillbillies) and his band will entertain. He has been referred to as a young Charlie Daniels. One thing for sure, he will fiddle up a storm; and there could be some real surprises come Friday night!  I’m just sayin’.  Come and find out.  Music begins at 7 p.m. and Portal 2L20, a new non-profit teen center, will be serving the food.


POSTED: 07/20/16 at 7:16 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

After a week off for Van Wert County Foundation sponsored concerts in Fountain Park, we return this Friday with a tribute to one of Rhythm & Blues’ all-time greatest singer and songwriters: Stevie Wonder.  Natural Wonder is a tribute to Wonder’s music in a re-creation by Gabriel Bello and his band.  Although there are other impersonators of Stevie Wonder’s music, Natural Wonder is the real thing, with all live music created by guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, horn section, and rhythm section.

Growing up in Massachusetts, and later Florida, Gabriel honed his musical skills and love for music singing in church choirs. Following what Bello says was a miraculous healing from cancer, he began using his talents in churches as a choir and worship leader. He still is quite involved today in church music when he is not touring with Natural Wonder.

As a solo career, Gabriel was a finalist to be “American Idol” alumna Carrie Underwood’s music director, as well as being approached to be Kelli Pickler’s music director. One thing led to another and, in 2012, Gabriel formed the band Natural Wonder as a tribute to one of his favorite performers of all-time: Stevie Wonder.

Fountain Park will be filled with the sounds of Stevie Wonder (and) you will recognize song after song as they are re-created by the “Ultimate Tribute” to this American iconic singer/songwriter.

Bring a lawn chair or blanket or just mill around the park to the sounds of Stevie Wonder this Friday night beginning at 7 p.m.  We’ll trust the weather forecast and say it will be a beautiful evening with clouds and sun and temperatures in the low ‘80s.  After all, the weatherman is never wrong! Right?

Appropriately so, Youth for Christ will be serving the food in the park this Friday night. Come and support this very important youth ministry in our community and enjoy a meal before or during the concert. YFC should be ready to serve you by 5:30 Friday evening.

Thank you all for getting us off to a tremendous start of ticket sales at the Niswonger. We just opened up Select Series sales last week and tickets have been flying out of the box office. Buy 3-5 concerts and receive a 10 percent discount or buy six or more and take 15 percent off your purchase. Either way, you select what you want to attend in the upcoming “Season of Wow” at the Niswonger. This also allows you to reserve your seats now before open sales begin. So many good concerts and shows to choose from!

Take a look at our menu of entertainment in our catalog or go online at NPACVW.ORG and browse electronically. We can’t wait to welcome you back to the Niswonger as we celebrate our “Tenth Year of Wow!”


POSTED: 07/13/16 at 6:41 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

One of the biggest holidays at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center is coming this week!  This Thursday, July 7, is the beginning of the Select Series sales.

Over the past several years, this day has become a much-anticipated one for many patrons of the Niswonger.  Doors to the Grand Lobby and sales of Select Series will begin at noon on Thursday.  Those attending in person will be given a number and served in the order of their appearance.

We enjoy seeing so many of our friends on this day.  We open up extra stations, as many as our server will allow, serving each patron as quickly and efficiently as possible. We will be showing a promotional video in the First Federal Lecture Hall, where people can sit, relax, view the video, and ask questions. I always enjoy watching patrons talk with each other about what choices they intend to make. By the way, refreshments are always available while you wait.

This year, there are 25 events to choose from. The gala concert featuring Bernadette Peters with the Boston Pops Orchestra on April 1 will become available to the open public beginning January 4. There are ways to purchase gala tickets earlier by buying a membership or Grand Series. Feel free to ask the box office about this.

The 2016-17 Niswonger season is filled with such variety of options once again. Some of the big name concerts will likely be very popular during Select Series time, but allow me to say a word about a select few events that might not be as well known. Vocalosity on October 22 will be an exciting show of young a cappella voices put together by Deke Sharon, the creative mind who produced “The Sing-Off” and “Pitch Perfect” for TV. He personally auditioned and selected over a dozen male and female voices for this touring show, which took off last year primarily on college campuses throughout the country. I understand they even do a little barbershop music and have been written up in national barbershop publications.

Another show that could fly under your radar screen may be Artrageous. This is a very unique and highly entertaining show of music and visual art. We are proud to be working alongside Wassenberg Art Center to bring this to you. Live musicians will perform music the likes of Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, Ray Charles, and others while artists will be on stage painting portraits of the musician whose music they are performing.  It looked so cool I just had to bring it to Van Wert for you to experience.

One last show I will mention is “Broadway & Beyond”, which can be purchased as part of the Community Concert Series (a great bargain) or independently. This is a show I have helped create with two performing artist friends of mine. J. Mark McVey, who appeared with Signature Sound on our stage back in 2014 with the “Inspiration of Broadway”, will now join forces with the Heartland Singers of Fort Wayne to perform a newly created show: “Broadway & Beyond”.

We have had discussion of the content and I believe it will be a tremendously enjoyable evening of beautiful music on March 18. J. Mark McVey is a seasoned Broadway veteran, having performed the role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables 3,268 times. Included in those performances were London’s West End — the first American singer to sing that role in London — and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to a sold-out Hollywood Bowl performance.  He was also featured in the 25th anniversary tour of Les Mis.

He will join his voice with the Heartland Singers and instrumentalists under the direction of Maestro Robert Nance to create a memorable night at the Niswonger. We are hopeful this will launch the show nationally, with the premier, of course, at the Niswonger.

A couple updates on other coming Niswonger attractions that made news recently: Mutts Gone Nuts, which will be here on April 30, was recently on ABC’s “The View”. I also heard that REO Speedwagon, which will appear the day before on April 29, just sang the “National Anthem” on July 4 for the Chicago White Sox-New York Yankees game. Just thought you would like to know!

This Friday night, a combined concert with the Van Wert Area Community Concert Band and the St. Marys Area Community Band will be featured in Fountain Park. I hope you can attend this first-ever event as these two bands will entertain individually, as well as combined with exciting band music selected especially for you.

Directors Richard Sherrick and Dane Newlove hope to welcome a big crowd to Fountain Park this Friday night at 7 p.m.  And bring your appetites, as food will be available in the Rotary concession booth.


POSTED: 07/06/16 at 7:03 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

This Friday night in Fountain Park, the Lima Pops Orchestra will take the stage to lead us in an early Fourth of July Celebration of America.  The concert will be filled with patriotic tunes, marches, American film scores, American pop tunes, and much more.  Vocalist Kirsten Osbun-Manley from Ohio Northern University will add some vocal flavor to the program.

Maestro Crafton Beck will return to direct the orchestra in what he calls one of his favorite outdoor concert venues: Fountain Park in Van Wert.

If you get to the park early enough, you might be able to get a complimentary U.S. flag to wave during the concert. There will be plenty of patriotic tunes to instill patriotism in the hearts of concertgoers. Linda Hartman has taken it upon herself to collect donations from elected officials in Van Wert, as well as others of interest, to purchase U.S. flags. She and some helpers will be at the park to distribute them to adults who may return them afterward or purchase them for a dollar. Smaller flags will be given to children to help instill patriotism in the younger generation. Thank you, Linda, and all your helpers and donors!

New Hope Recovery will be serving some delicious food from the Rotary concession stand by 5:30 p.m. By the way, in mentioning the Rotary concession stand and restroom facility, we should mention a person who passed this week who was a huge part of building it: Wayne Compton, Rotarian, building constructor, and business owner, and all round great Van Wert citizen. If it wasn’t for Wayne Compton, I’m not sure we would have this building in Fountain Park. In his mid-80s, Wayne helped lead a volunteer crew with assistance from Alexander & Bebout in the construction of the Rotary concession and restroom building. Wayne was a giving man who accomplished many great things, including surviving the Battle of the Bulge in WW II.  Thanks Wayne, you’ll be missed!

Now back to Friday night. Following the concert with the Lima Symphony Pops Orchestra, the fun will continue!  We will be making a quick transition to an outdoor movie theater.  I figure the concert will end around 9 p.m. At that time, a huge inflatable movie screen will appear and get hooked into the concert sound system and, by 9:30 p.m., we should be ready to sit back, lay on a blanket or the grass, and enjoy E.T.: the Extra Terrestrial. This American family science fiction film, directed by Stephen Spielberg and written by Melissa Mathison, is a perfect family film to enjoy outside.

Main Street Van Wert will be in the park selling popcorn and drinks for you to enjoy as you settle in for the evening once the sun goes down to enjoy the movie.  Many people have been asking for another movie in the park, so we deiced to schedule it with our July 4 celebration leading into Holiday at Home.

Mentioning Holiday at Home, plan on sticking around for the parade on Monday, beginning at 11 a.m., and then enjoy time at the Van Wert Historical Museum for more fun and food. Van Wert Rotary Club will be serving food at the museum following the parade.

I know many of you are gearing up to buy your Grand Series tickets at the Niswonger. Just as a reminder, you can start purchasing those today (Wednesday, June 29).  If you are planning to pick your concerts from the buffet line, the Select Series sales begin July 7. So get your catalogs out or check online at NPACVW.ORG and make your selections now so you are ready for the big sale dates. It’s “Ten Years of Wow” we are celebrating at the Niswonger this year. I hope you can join us.

Thank you all for your continued support of our Fountain Park concerts and those indoors at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. We’ll keep the fun coming, thanks to the generosity of The Van Wert County Foundation and people like you!

FINÉ (many people ask me why I say this at the end of my columns each week. FINÉ is a musical term that means “the end.” Now you know).

FINÉ (again).

POSTED: 06/28/16 at 10:40 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

The context of this column tells it all in the title, “Beginnings to a new Niswonger season.”  It may not be exactly as you were thinking.  It actually has a double meaning.  You see, this week in Fountain Park, the band Beginnings is performing on Friday night.  But we also just announced a new season at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center: Ten Years of Wow!

We’ll start with Beginnings — the Ultimate Tribute to Chicago.  It seems today that just about every band is the ultimate tribute to whomever. In this case, Beginnings has been around since 2002 and is filled with outstanding New York musicians who love the music of the band Chicago and have had a great deal of success since giving tribute concerts.

This is not the same Chicago tribute band we have had in the past. Their name is Brass Transit and they are an outstanding band too. So many of you enjoyed them a few years back and they are still one of my all-time favorites. Beginnings is a group I heard showcased in New York City this past January. Some showcases I attend, I listen and move on; however, in this case, I didn’t want these guys to stop playing. They went on for about 30 minutes and obviously, I just didn’t get enough of them. I felt you might think the same way, so here they are this Friday night in Fountain Park. To be quite honest, I felt the horn section with this band was one of the best I have heard.

The concert starts at 7 p.m. and the First United Methodist Women will be serving up some delicious food out of the Rotary Concession Booth beginning around 5:30 that evening. The weather should be great and the music will be filled with tunes nearly everyone will know, recognize and love. Spread the word, this band is worth hearing. Invite your friends to a fun-filled family evening in Fountain Park this Friday night.

Now to the new season at the Niswonger.  We had a tremendous unveiling event last week to announce the 2016-17 season at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio.  It is filled with 28 performances and events throughout the upcoming year.  When a season offers everything from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood to REO Speedwagon, you can truly say it offers something for everyone.

It’s not just the two extreme concerts I just mentioned, but it’s really everything in between. You really need to check it out.  Go to our website at NPACVW.ORG or take a look at our catalog (which can also be viewed on the website) and see what hidden gems might be in the middle of this season: Ten Years of Wow!

And if you aren’t yet wowed enough, we have planned a Ten Year Gala Celebration concert featuring Bernadette Peters and the Boston Pops Orchestra. This is literally more than I could have even imagined, but sometimes the stars just line up. The Boston Pops just happened to be touring the Midwest this spring and I just happened to call at the exact right time. They had just performed with Bernadette Peters twice the previous year, opening the Tanglewood season as well as the Pops’ own season. Keith Lockhart, director of The Pops, will be conducting and loves working with Bernadette. Thanks to the Big Three: Scott Niswonger, Central Insurance, and The Van Wert County Foundation, along with support from The Kenn-Feld Group, we have been able to put this truly once-in-a-lifetime concert event together for Van Wert, Ohio.

The Niswonger Box Office is currently accepting memberships that allow early purchase options to the season. Check with the box office to see how you can be included in the Season of Wow! at the Niswonger. All sale dates are listed on the website and in the catalog. We mailed nearly 15,000 copies to past ticket buyers and they are being delivered in the mail as we speak.

When you attend the concert in Fountain Park this Friday, we will have an information table and people who can answer questions and distribute materials.  I look forward to seeing you in the park as we celebrate Beginnings to a new season!


POSTED: 06/22/16 at 5:56 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Today is the day we announce the entire 2016-17 season at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. Every year has become more and more special, but this year is an announcement of our 10th anniversary season and you can bet it is loaded with outstanding concerts and events.

Wanting to make this 10-year anniversary special, my board and I wanted to have an appropriate gala concert and celebration.  It took months in the making, but even I am amazed at what we have come up with. If you are available today (May 15), we invite you to our unveiling of the season and our gala concert celebration. Starting at 11:30 a.m. in the Niswonger’s Van Wert Federal Grand Lobby and First Federal’s Lecture Hall, we are serving up lunch, compliments of Van Wert Pizza Hut and some desserts from Truly Divine of Van Wert. Then at noon, we will begin a program of recognizing sponsors, welcoming media from the region, and then announce through a specially produced video, our season and Gala performance.  We should be wrapped up by 1 p.m. so you can go out into the public to help spread the news.

Next week’s column will allow me time to talk about the season a little more in detail.  It will feature 23 outstanding concerts of variety as well as three exciting, inspiring, and educational speakers.  We will also share selling dates and other valuable information at our noon Unveiling Event today.  Catalogs have been printed and are currently in the mail to nearly 16,000 previous ticket buying residents throughout the U.S. and Canada.

“Ten years of Wow!” is the slogan we have put to our new season. I am sure “wow” is an appropriate word to use for this season. As I said, even I said “Wow!” when I put it all together.  We look forward to seeing you and sharing the good news of 10 years at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio.

Now on to Fountain Park. This Friday night features a concert I know some of you have especially been looking forward to. It is “Madrigal: the Ultimate Tribute to Carlos Santana,” starting at 7 p.m. I know there are some real Carlos Santana fans out there. José Madrigal is a guitarist/vocalist who lives in the Cincinnati area and has put together an outstanding band of musicians who perform the music of Carlos Santana.

Those of you familiar with Santana’s music appreciate the energy of Latin, Jazz, Rock, Fusion, and Blues that comes with his music.  We were fortunate for them to have an open Friday night several months ago when I booked them. They are a growing band in popularity and I think you will really enjoy their music and showmanship Friday night.

Serving up delicious food for you to enjoy in the park will be the Van Wert Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. Although this non-profit organization receives some government funding, it is always looking for additional funding to help its cause of promoting Van Wert County. Your support of CVB will not only help its cause, but also fill your appetite!  If we should run into a completely rainy day, the concert could be moved into the Niswonger.  Let’s all hope we can enjoy another fun and beautiful day and evening in Fountain Park. I’m sure you will enjoy the fun, music, food, and great fellowship.


POSTED: 06/15/16 at 6:39 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert