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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Aug. 3, 2015


Music in Van Wert

By: Paul Hoverman


Although the Fountain Park Summer Music Series does not have a concert in the park this Friday night, I believe we will more than make up for it on August 7 when Your Generation in Concert: Fifty Amp Fuse takes the stage.  This nine-piece band is an international favorite for celebrities, festivals, corporate events, casinos and private events.  Located in the Detroit metro area, this band covers six decades of the pop/rock era of American and British music.  They are in high demand and we are very fortunate to be able to bring them to Van Wert to close out our summer series. I think you are going to really love their concert. It will be a fun conclusion to a rainy summer!

Although this concert with Fifty Amp Fuse is the last concert in our series, I want you to not forget about the Van Wert Area Community Concert Band, who will be in concert in Fountain Park the following week on August 14.  They are delighting audiences with their enjoyable brand of traditional and contemporary band music. Food will also be provided for those who wish to enjoy their meal in the park.

You might have also noticed the Elvis Tribute who will be in concert in Fountain Park on Saturday, August 15. I understand it is a tremendous show. Tickets are available through Visionary Promotions and the proceeds of the concert will benefit the Children’s Garden in Smiley Park.

I will mention one more concert, which will be held at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on Saturday, August 8.  The Dudelang Symphonic Band from Luxembourg is touring the United States and we were fortunate enough to be able to host them for a free concert.  It has been set up in cooperation with Ohio Northern University.  The concert will be at 7 p.m. and there is free admission. Come to the Niswonger and enjoy a free band concert with our friends from Luxembourg!  Music bridges the gap of many miles.

Tickets for the upcoming Niswonger season are flying out the door each day. Many of the shows and concerts are filling up quickly.  Interestingly, The Texas Tenors, part of our Community Concert Series, are leading all concerts in sales. Over 500 people have bought the entire Community Concert Series, making The Texas Tenors a real bargain!  We have added another 400 through Select Series buyers. Also in that series is Ethan Bortnick, whom you might have also seen on PBS this summer.  As are The Texas Tenors, Ethan Bortnick is quite a show. Both will be outstanding productions.

Speaking of the Niswonger business, I want you to know about a project the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation is launching very soon. The foundation is raffling off a beautiful cream colored/red interior 2002 Ford Thunderbird with very low mileage. Tickets are $100 each and just 500 will be sold. The proceeds will help us build a permanent cover over the loading dock, providing a much safer environment for our many volunteers who help load in and out the Niswonger shows, many times in the winter weather. Stage lighting and video projection will be enhanced with any remaining proceeds.

So, you are helping a good cause and someone will drive away with a beautiful Thunderbird. You will see it parked outside the main entrance of the Niswonger before upcoming shows. Good cause, good chance, beautiful car.

There will be more to share with you next week as we draw closer to our Fountain Park finale. Until then, keep a song in your heart!


POSTED: 07/29/15 at 6:22 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I have to admit, I met Catherine Porter in New York City this past January and now we’re going to have Shotgun Wedding this Friday night in Fountain Park. Did I get your attention? I hope so, because I think this week’s Fountain Park entertainers are worth seeing and hearing!

They claim they are a “City Country Band” and they hail from Brooklyn, New York.  Go figure. Porter, the female vocalist of the band explains that Shotgun Wedding is “…Like sippin’ a Moonshine Martini after a long, hard day.”  If you have the chance, you can check out their sound at

This band is blazing its own trail with a new music genre, “City Country.” Their songs reflect life in NYC, steeped in Bakersfield country, rock-n-roll, with a dash of swing. Their website suggests you will get the picture if you trade your front porch for a fire escape, your trusty steed for the 7 o’clock train, and Ole’ Yeller for a yellow cab.

Shotgun Wedding

Shotgun Wedding

One thing I do know is that this band is filled with outstanding musicians who like to have a lot of fun!  Guitarist Dennis DelGaudio has spent time guesting with the likes of The Turtles and our friend from the Niswonger in 2008, Peter Noone (Herman’s Hermits). He has also been lead guitarist, and eventually musical director, on the Broadway smash hit Movin’ Out.  He was also part of Billy Joel’s historic Last Play at Shea concerts and is now a touring member with Joel.  As a matter of fact, Dennis and Wade Preston, piano/vocalist for Shotgun Wedding, will both be hustling into Van Wert on Friday after finishing a concert with Joel in Boston’s Fenway Park.

Bassist and vocalist Andy Cichon hails from Australia, but began his U.S. career by touring with Shania Twain and still performs with Shania and Joel. He has also shared the stage with Paul McCartney. Drummer Chuck Burgi has a resume that reads like a “Who’s Who” of rock and pop music. He teamed up with Hall and Oates for two platinum albums and two world tours. He has also recorded with the likes of Michael Bolton, Diana Ross, Bon Jovi and Meat Loaf. He, as well as Andy, Dennis and Wade, also performs with Joel as his drummer.

Catherine Porter is a native New Yorker and has sung with Michael Crawford, Hugh Jackman, Brian May, Queen, Chaka Khan, Sam Moore and Kiki Dee, to name a few. Of all her gigs, she claims singing in Shotgun Wedding is her favorite place to be.

So, as you can see, the band scheduled to play in Fountain Park this Friday night has quite a resume! If you like country music with a New York City twist … and if you like and appreciate world-class musicians, you won’t want to miss Shotgun Wedding this Friday night in Van Wert’s Fountain Park.

Of course, if it should rain (and what would the chance be we should ever get rain), we will move the concert into the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. Fountain Park scheduled concerts begin at 7 p.m.  We all hope we can be outside and enjoy beautiful weather and good food prepared by Family Health Care of Northwest Ohio.

Tickets are flying out of the Niswonger box office each day as people are taking advantage of early buying opportunities by bundling three or more concert and saving 10-15 percent. Grand Series and Community Concert Series are still being sold, too. Care to guess who is in first place as of right now in ticket sales at the Niswonger?  The Texas Tenors (who da thunk). Great show, though. Lots of people have been seeing their show on local PBS stations this summer. I’d want to come, too!

Pray for good weather and I’ll see you in Fountain Park this Friday night … hopefully!


POSTED: 07/15/15 at 6:28 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

This Friday night in Fountain Park there will be a band concert. It features many adults who have either continued with, or rediscovered, music making. The Van Wert Area Community Concert Band is a musical organization where amateur musicians can come together and enjoy making music for people to listen to, although I kind of think they would enjoy the activity just for the reward of making music for themselves. This band is filled with people, from teens to over 90 years old. One of the real “cool” things about making music is that it can be done and shared with each other regardless of your age.

This Friday night, the Van wert Area Community Concert Band will feature a musician who made most of his living working at Central Insurance during the day, but playing at night and on weekends. A wise professor of mine once said: “You can play around when you’re young and work like a dog the rest of your life, or you can work like a dog while you are young and play the rest of your life!” He was referring to practicing a musical instrument.  Glen Poling is a man who has been able to play music the rest of his life … and what a life it has been!  Although Glen has played in community band and church on the baritone horn mostly, his real love is the guitar.  Glen has played all over the country with fellow musicians as part of jazz and dance bands

This Friday night, Glen will be featured with the VWACCB in Fountain Park playing his guitar.  At 90 years old, he seems to keep going like the Eveready Bunny of music. I am sure Glen has played more music than most anyone in Van Wert. When in town, he plays baritone horn with the concert band and also guitar with many Limaland musician friends. In the last couple decades, he has spent winters in Florida and, of course, made friends with fellow musicians and entertains retirees enjoying the warmth of the winter in Florida.

The VWACCB is what used to be the Masonic Fellowcraft Band. Some of the same players from that band have continued through the transitions and continue playing. Richard Sherrick, legendary and now retired band director from Parkway Local Schools, has taken over the reins as conductor and has attracted new musicians. I heard the band play at the Van Wert County Historical Museum on July 4 and they are making some very enjoyable music. I hope you can attend their concert in Fountain Park this Friday night and enjoy a good old band concert in the park and hear one of Van Wert’s finest and most seasoned musicians, Glen Poling.

The concert begins at 7 p.m. just like all our Fountain Park Summer Music Series concerts. Food will be served out of the Rotary concession booth for you to enjoy.

Also on the docket for this weekend is a new festival called “Eats on the Street/Art from the Fort,” which is sponsored by Main Street Van Wert and Wassenberg Art Center. Food vendors and activities will be located on Central Avenue from 4-11 p.m. this Saturday. There will even be a duck race down Town Creek. Launch time is 6:15 p.m. from the footbridge in back of Wassenberg Art Center. Come downtown and enjoy a fun time and take in some music at the Wassenberg Art Center too!

The following week, we return with a Fountain Park Summer Music Series concert featuring a band from Brooklyn, New York, called “Shot Gun Wedding.”  It will be a city/country band that features all kinds of music styles played by some outstanding musicians who currently play with the likes of Billy Joel, Shania Twain, Bon Jovi, and Dianna Ross just to name a few. Their music, which is on the Country side, has been compared to the sounds of Loretta Lynn, George Jones and Merle Haggard. They are outstanding musicians and I think you’re gonna love them!

Lastly, today is the beginning of Select Series sales at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. This is where anyone wishing to select three or more concerts may purchase tickets for the upcoming season.  It’s always a big day and with the line-up for this season, I expect many seats to get eaten up by the end of today (Wednesday.) Sales begin at noon and can be purchased in person at the box office, online ( or by calling (419.238.NPAC 6722.) There are 25 outstanding performances and events to choose from. Don’t lose out. Think now about the ones you wish to attend and get your tickets before we’re sold out!


POSTED: 07/08/15 at 6:20 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Another big holiday weekend is approaching as we celebrate Independence Day in America.  Once again, many activities will surround the July 4 celebration in Van Wert with the Holiday at Home plans.

Things get started this Friday night with what has become a Van Wert tradition with the Lima Symphony Pops Orchestra in Fountain Park.  I hope we as a community don’t take for granted the wonderful opportunity we have to celebrate July 4 with a live orchestra.  There are not many communities in America that can share a July 4 celebration much like we see on the lawn of our nation’s capital each year.

Maestro Crafton Beck has a program of American music put together that includes Broadway and film scores, popular music, American folk songs, marches, overtures and patriotic tunes sure to get everyone in the celebratory mood of Independence Day.  The Lima Symphony will play this Friday in Van Wert and then moves to the lawns of Ohio Northern University for a concert on Saturday.

Activities on Saturday in Van Wert will be in abundance, including a chicken barbecue at Smiley Park by our local firefighters, a parade at 11 a.m. down Main Street and festivities at the Van Wert County Historical Museum kicking off at noon. Fireworks will be put on display at the Van Wert High School/Middle School site. The Van Wert City School District, as well as numerous businesses, corporations and individuals who have stepped up to fund this year’s fireworks, should be thanked for their contributions.

Tickets for the Niswonger concerts are starting to sell as Grand Series sales begin today (July 1).  Remember: Grand Series packages include everything outside of the Community Concert Series.  With a Community Concert Series and a Grand Series, you won’t miss a single concert this season.

One week later (July 8), Select Series tickets go on sale. This is the time anyone can bundle three or more concerts or events, receive a discount, and be pretty much guaranteed a ticket to the concerts they want. The longer you wait to make your Select Series selection, the more risk you take in tickets either being sold out or the selection of seats decreasing. This is the reason we have added one more level of giving. We call it the “Friend” level of membership; this allows you to make your Select Series selection one day earlier on July 7. Call or stop by the box office to find out details.

That reminds me that the Niswonger box office will be closed this Friday in observance of the Fourth of July holiday. Other than that, the summer box office hours are noon-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. The phone number of the box office is 419.238.NPAC (6722.)

Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you have a blast and enjoy some good music. I’ll see you from the stage this Friday night as we celebrate America with the Lima Symphony Pops!  Food will be provided by the YMCA Wellness Center.


POSTED: 07/01/15 at 5:50 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

With the announcement of the upcoming Niswonger season, it seems essential to let as many as possible know the buying process for concert tickets.  Each year, we try to inform interested ticket buyers as to the process of obtaining tickets, but some fall through the cracks.  I may be preaching to the choir, but in case we help a few this time, I will restate our ticket policy.

Before I get into the details, though, I want to inform everyone exactly how we (Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation/NPAC) are organized. We are a non-profit organization that chooses to book our own concerts and events, allowing us to create a season of who we choose.

Some concert hall venues and organizations rent their halls out to promoters who have purchased a bunch of dates for a particular artist and wish to place them in performance halls throughout the country or region. This has its positive features, but also some drawbacks. We have chosen since our inception to self-promote and plan a season as we like (and hopefully, as you the patron will like).

In the parameters we have given ourselves, we try to generate long-term support, rather than go after, and depend on, single ticket buyers who will likely visit us once or twice. To accomplish this, we offer packages and try to establish a loyal customer base. It has been a rather successful strategy for us, and we have most of you to thank for that.

Also, since we are a non-profit organization, we are not driven by profit, although we need to generate funds to function and remain vital and fresh. We realize there are some who really like to have certain seats in the Van Wert County Foundation Saltzgaber Music Hall. The only way to guarantee this feature is to offer memberships and packages which allow priority purchasing dates.  In exchange for that, there is a cost associated with the privilege, but also then a discount on the tickets.

We have established membership levels, as well as series bundling sale dates. Participating in this allows people to guarantee a seat is available to them for the concert. Memberships can be purchased at any time and we are currently selling tickets to platinum, gold, and soon, silver members. We then open to Grand Series buyers; those wishing to buy every concert or event on the season (Community Concerts are separate.)

Next is the big Select Series release day. This is where you can bundle three or more concerts, receive a discount, and still get in on early ticket buying.  This year we instituted a new membership level called Friend, which allows you to make a Select Series purchase one day in advance.

After all these loyalty dates are through, single tickets sales begin typically 60-90 days before the concert.  Those dates are listed in our catalog as well as on-line (NPACVW.ORG).  Now here is the important point I want everyone to be made aware of: There may be some concerts that will sell out by the time we get to the single ticket release dates! This is due to the enormous interest in a particular concert and the early purchasing options.

In the past, we had this situation with Marie Osmond, Kelli Pickler and Kenny G, just to name a few. The way to avoid being shut out of a certain concert is to take advantage of one of the early release dates. And if there are certain seats you really cherish, select a package or date that best suits your needs and purchasing ability. We really don’t want you to say as Yogi Berra, the famous Yankee catcher once said: “No one goes there. They’re always too busy!”

Grand Series sales begin July 1, Friends begin July 7, and Select Series begins July 8 (always a big day at the Niswonger!)  If you want to secure your seats even earlier, call the box office (419.238.6722) and ask about Membership options available.

It will be a Mardi Gras atmosphere in Fountain Park this Friday night when the Hoo Doo Loungers come to town.  All the sounds and music of New Orleans will be on display as this talented nine piece band featuring horns, bass, drums, accordion, guitar, vocals, keyboards and a whole lot more will liven up your weekend this Friday night at 7 p.m.

I also want to mention a concert coming to Trinity United Methodist Church in Van Wert this Thursday. It features internationally known singing group “The Celebrant Singers and Orchestra.”  We are proud to say that Crestview graduate Natalie Collins, daughter of Mary and Jeff Collins, is part of the tour this summer as a musician. This concert begins at 7 p.m.

Hope to see you soon!


POSTED: 06/24/15 at 7:41 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I’ve been listening to Melissa Manchester sing the beautiful ballad “Come in from the Rain,” and it makes me think about the concerts in Fountain Park. In case you haven’t noticed, we have received quite a bit of rain recently in the area.  This may be one of the biggest understatements of all time!

The first concert of our Fountain Park season was blessed with super weather, even though rain was forecast. As I look ahead to our second concert in the park this Saturday night, it looks like we may get a break in the weather, but I wouldn’t bet the boat on it. You may need it!

There are a lot of activities planned for this coming Saturday. The Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA) sets sail from Van Wert and the masterminds of the city and county have festivities planned in honor of this event. Bicyclists from all over will converge in Van Wert at the fairgrounds throughout the day. Then, approximately 6:15 p.m. they will form a parade of bicycles, many I understand decorated in a sundry of ways. Around 6:45, they should arrive at Fountain Park in downtown Van Wert where there will be a small ceremony recognizing the thousands of bikers heading out the next day on their big adventure.

The Van Wert County Council on Aging is planning a big feed out of the Rotary Concession food stand. In the basement of First United Methodist Church, they will be up to their necks in noodles. A spaghetti supper will be served, as I understand noodles are good carbs for the bikers. Both are open to the public.  Food should be available by at least 5:30 p.m.

The concert of the week has been moved to Saturday, June 20 to coordinate with all the festivities.  It features a group called Blue Moon Swamp: A Tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival and the music of John Fogerty. You may recall such songs as “Proud Mary,” Born on the Bayou,” “Bad Moon Rising,” and “Green River,” just to name a few. Fogerty, the band’s lead singer hoped they would sing music that would still be played 10 years later.  Over 40 years later, CCR music is as popular now as it was then.

Blue Moon Swamp is a band that travels coast to coast singing the music of CCR and Fogerty. Dan McGuinness, the band’s lead singer, captures the voice of Fogerty in an amazing way. The band’s motto is “Anything worth doing, is worth doing well” and their concerts recreate the experience of those concerts from the 1970s. It’s a lifetime of unforgettable hits in a single night. I hope you enjoy the concert and the experience of welcoming so many visitors to our fine community.

Every effort will be made to keep the concert in Fountain Park; however, IF it should rain all day long and has to be moved inside, that’s where I welcome you to come in from the rain to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on Ohio 118 South.

And speaking of the Niswonger, I hope everyone has had the chance to see the new season we unveiled last week.  It has many people buzzing with 26 action-packed, entertaining and inspiring events.  I would REALLY recommend you at least try to find three or more concerts to bundle, which will allow you the chance to purchase tickets before the singles go on sale.  Each year, people are surprised to find out we are sold out by waiting until single tickets go on sale.  July 8 begins Select Series sales and this might be your best opportunity.  Other earlier opportunities exist for a better choice in seats. Check with the box office for details (419.238.NPAC 6722).

Keep dry my friend.


POSTED: 06/17/15 at 6:28 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

If you are like me, you’ve probably had about enough acronyms in your life!  So, here are a couple more for you to consider; however, I’m going to help you along the way. The two acronyms I have listed above both deal with events happening this June 20.  And you might want to be involved, so it’s good to know what they are.

GOBA stands for the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure. Bikers (the pedal-kind) from all over the state will be gathering in Van Wert for this event.  They actually launch their bicycle trip from Van Wert this year and will return days later.  We are told by the CVB (oops! there I go again) the Convention & Visitors Bureau, that there will be a few thousand bikers coming to our fair city.

On Saturday, June 20, before they launch their big bicycle adventure, they will be looking for entertainment.  Enter the FPSMS (oops! Fountain Park Summer Music Series). Our Fountain Park concerts are almost always on Friday nights.  We try to be consistent because we want people to know when to count on us.  This time however, we decided to be a community player and move our concert to Saturday night June 20 to accommodate our many bicycle visitors, as well as those accompanying them as well wishers.

I assume most the bicyclists will be young enough to be fit for a few hundred miles of peddling.  So, for this concert in the park, I chose a concert featuring music they might relate to.  The music of CCR (oh shoot! there I go again) Creedence Clearwater Revival is pretty legendary to those who lived in the ‘60s, ‘70s and beyond. One can still hear the music of CCR played on Classic Rock stations with regularity.

Since Creedence Clearwater Revival is no longer together (yes, I am aware of Creedence Clearwater Revisited), I sought out the finest tribute band I could find of their music.  That would be the group coming to Fountain Park on Saturday, June 20: Blue Moon Swamp.  They hail from Chicago, Illinois, and are named after a solo album by John Fogerty, former lead singer with CCR.

The lead singer for Blue Moon Swamp sounds so much like John Fogerty in his prime that they actually do some John Fogerty songs on the concert. I think our visitors will enjoy the concert and I hope you do too! The COA (well, there I go again!), Council on Aging, will be providing food in the park that night. There will also be a spaghetti supper in the basement dining hall of First U.M. Church (do I need to spell this one out?), just across from the park.  Help yourself to your own delight and then join us in the park for some fun music and fellowship.

Just before the concert begins, I understand there will also be a parade of bicyclists working their way from the fairgrounds to Fountain Park via back streets and entering on Jefferson Street.  Also, before the 7 p.m. concert with CCR, the VWACCB (Yikes! Van Wert Area Community Concert Band) will be playing at the north end of Fountain Park. So, just as you enjoyed all the Peony and ArtRageous activities this past weekend, June 20 will offer plenty of excitement. Van Wert just keeps offering great things for you to enjoy! It’s the place to be.

And speaking of excitement, today (Wednesday) at noon, we will be unveiling our entire season coming to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center this year. It may be our most outstanding roster of performers, artists and shows we have ever put together in our eight years of existence.  I can’t wait to share the good news with you. I’m sure you will agree!  We look to color your world with entertainment.


POSTED: 06/10/15 at 5:48 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

After nearly seven months of meeting, discussing, planning and eventually agreeing with agents and performers, we have a full season ready to be announced to the public.  It will happen on June 10 in the First Federal Lecture Hall of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert.  A noon luncheon will be followed by a preview of the season to members, underwriters, sponsors, our valued volunteers and media friends.

I was recently looking through video footage of all our performers and I have to say, it looks like a “blockbuster” of a season!  While working remotely from Columbus, I spent two hours watching all the footage of our performers, 25 in total for the upcoming season.  I truly was so engrossed by each performer that I didn’t even realize two hours had passed by.

Now, I understand that you hear me say quite often how I think the next concert is going to be outstanding, but I do believe the Niswonger Programming Committee really outdid itself this year.  Not often can you put together a season where nearly everyone you wanted, you got.

We are anxious to share the information with all of you. Watch your favorite media source for information on the rest of the season, including Grand Series and Select Series dates. I have a sneaky feeling some concerts this year may sell out before we even get to the single ticket release dates. So, if you can plan ahead and find at least three concerts, your chances increase of getting a seat and certainly getting a choice seat.

The five Community Concert attractions were already announced and have been selling for a few couple weeks.  That series of five outstanding concerts is still available and is very affordable. Check with our box office (419.238.1743) or website ( to order and get details.

It is an exciting time as we also are planning the beginning to our Fountain Park Summer Music concerts. We are less than two weeks away from the opening concert on June 5 with Ambrosia. The concert begins at 7 p.m. in Fountain Park in downtown Van Wert, but there will be many other activities associated with our concert throughout the day as it is the Peony and ArtRageous Festivals weekend too.

It’s time to start praying for nice weather on the weekends in particular.  I hope you all had a nice Memorial weekend. Thank you to all who gave their lives for us. They may now be singing with the heavenly hosts!

I will be on vacation next week, visiting my daughter in San Francisco, so I won’t be seeing you next week most likely. But when we return, it’s full speed ahead for “Music in Van Wert!”


POSTED: 05/27/15 at 5:28 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Since 2002, The Van Wert County Foundation has been providing free concerts in Fountain Park for everyone to enjoy.  Now, we are embarking on our 14th season of what we call the Fountain Park Summer Music Series.

I remember the first season.  I had been on the job as coordinator of performing arts for The Van Wert County Foundation for about five months. We had no idea of whether people would want to come to outdoor concerts on a regular basis. The Foundation was willing to give it a try and entrust me to put a series together.

The very first concert featured the Kettering Banjo Society. I thought a few people might get a kick out of hearing a bunch of banjo players and a tuba come up from Kettering, Ohio, and play some old time music in the park. Wow!  I guess I underestimated the interest. There must have been 500 people in the park for that inaugural concert. I remember the comment a friend made of how cool it was to sit outside, relax under the stars and listen to good music. I guess it caught on and took hold.

Since then, we have all enjoyed over a hundred concerts and are looking forward to a new slate starting in just a few weeks. As has been the tradition for the past several years, we will launch our first Fountain Park concert with the Peony and ArtRageous Festivals on Friday night, June 5. One of the biggest named bands of all time will perform in Fountain Park: Ambrosia.  If you are like me, you probably couldn’t name too many songs they ever sang, but once you hear them, you will immediately recall them with fondness.

If you grew up in the 1970s and ‘80s listening to the radio (that’s what we used to listen to when we wanted to know what was popular), then you heard Ambrosia all the time.  As a matter of fact, even today when I am in restaurants and other places of business where music is being played, I hear Ambrosia songs. Just to jog your memory, here are a few titles: “How Much I Feel,” “Biggest Part of Me,” and “You’re the Only Woman.” Some of the other groups Ambrosia either played for or toured with are like a “Who’s Who” of rock music: Alan Parsons, Fleetwood Mac, Heart, and the Doobie Brothers.  That’s pretty good company!

Well, that’s who we open the Fountain Park Summer Music Series with this year. Remember, all our summer concerts begin at 7 p.m.  As with other years, this opening weekend will be filled with all kinds of food vendors, craft vendors and artisans in and about the park, not to even mention the Peony Festival Committee will be serving food from the Rotary concession stand. It will be a lively and fun time as we open the summer in Fountain Park.

If you see a Van Wert County Foundation trustee, let them know you appreciate these free concerts made possible with funds from the Saltzgaber Music Fund. The cooperation we receive from the City Parks and Recreation Department is appreciated, as is the fine work of the Evergreen Garden Club.

Here is the rest of the line-up for this summer in Fountain Park:

  • Friday, May 22 — The Van Wert Area Concert Band
  • Saturday, June 20 — Blue Moon Swamp: a Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute
  • (GOBA weekend in Van Wert)
  • Friday, June 26 — The Hoo Doo Loungers: New Orleans style band
  • Friday, July 3 — Lima Symphony Pops: An American Celebration!
  • Friday, July 10 — Van Wert Area Concert Band
  • Friday, July 17 — Shotgun Wedding: a city/country band
  • Friday, July 24 — CSN Songs: a tribute to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • Friday, August 7 — Your Generation, featuring Fifty Amp Fuse
  • Friday, August 14 — Van Wert Area Concert Band


POSTED: 05/19/15 at 9:33 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

People often ask if we can relax a little, now that the season is over at the Niswonger.  Unfortunately, there are a few items to address during the off-season. Allow me to share a little of our off-season preparations.

The selection process for next season’s concerts is over (phew!). Now it’s time to wait for all our offers to be confirmed (or not).  At this moment, I am waiting to hear back from just two out of 25 offers we have in. That’s not bad, but it’s also the reason we experience delays in our announcements and preparations for revealing a new season. However, we are working on what we have and I think by the end of this week we will be ready to put the finishing touches on a new season.

In the meantime, marketing is busy lining up sponsors, underwriters, and advertisers.  Nearly at the same time, marketing is also busy collecting information on all our artists and shows to put together a season catalog that will be mailed out to thousands all over the country. Much of this work must be done in concert (no pun intended) with other work. It takes a very organized, creative and skilled person to pull all of this off successfully, and we are fortunate to have one of the best in our marketing director, Tafi Stober.  She keeps a lot of balls in the air at the same time.  Did I mention the video preparation?

Marketing also works in harmony (sorry, yet another pun) with our box office manager, Jerry Beard, to get all the concerts entered into our ticketing software with all the correct dates, times, and much more detailed information needed for each concert. Jerry also does great work.

As I complete the contract phase of each event, I share it with marketing and the box office.  Then, it’s time for our tech and production director to get to work advancing each show. Often, his expertise is called upon even earlier to make sure a certain show will fit the specifications of our venue. Hugh Saunier has been with us from the very beginning and is dependable and skillful.  We hear compliments from touring artists quite often on the wonderful team of volunteers and workers we organize under Hugh’s skillful eye.

The lighting side of our productions is also handled professionally by Hugh’s son, Matt Saunier.  Matt graduated from Van Wert High School two years ago and is actually now touring all over the U.S. with some professional touring artists who have performed at the Niswonger.  Making contacts in the performing arts industry might just land a huge job some day for Matt.  He has learned a tremendous amount about show and concert production while working first at the Marsh Auditorium and later at the Niswonger.  We have been the beneficiaries of his education.

A new teacher has been hired by Van Wert City Schools to focus on educating students for a future in performing arts.  We look forward to working with Melissa Bloomfield and a crop of students who can learn and possibly grow into a future job in performing arts.

During the summer, our facility coordinator will be busy taking care of all our performers’ hospitality, travel and lodging needs. This is sometimes an overwhelming job. Who better than Mark Hartman to take care of these details? Mark has done outstanding work at Trinity Friends Church for many years and now we have been blessed to have his services at the Niswonger.  Additionally, Mark will line up all the volunteer positions required to serve each concert. I’ve said it before, but we can’t say enough about the dedication of so many outstanding volunteers we have at our PAC.

Oh yes, and while all this preparation is going on, some of us are gearing up for a wonderful summer line up of concerts in Fountain Park.  All that fun begins June 5 with the soft-rock group, Ambrosia on Peony and ArtRageous weekend.  Remember, these summer concerts begin at 7 p.m. in Fountain Park.

So, yes it is nice to have a season behind us and to relax a little.a Thanks for asking.


POSTED: 05/13/15 at 6:07 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert