The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Mar. 22, 2018


Music in Van Wert

By: Paul Hoverman


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

What do you do on St. Patrick’s Day? Wear something green? Drink something green? It seems that St. Patrick’s Day is not one of the biggest days of celebration around this neck of the woods; however, it is a very important day for some.

In case you are not aware of who St. Patrick actually was, here’s a very brief history lesson for you.  St. Patrick lived from AD 385-461 and is considered the foremost patron saint of Ireland.  He is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, marks the death of this patron saint.  We are rather fortunate that this year, March 17 falls on a Saturday, giving us all the opportunity to adequately celebrate this holiday.

Celtic and Irish music is beloved by many and something everyone should experience.  In 2005, Celtic Woman took the world by storm.  It became a huge hit with the exposure from their PBS special which led to world tours and multi-platinum selling recordings and DVD’s.  One of the original angelic voices of Celtic Woman was a beautiful blonde Irish lady named Chloe Agnew. She was the youngest of the Celtic Woman cast.  After nearly 10 years of fame with Celtic Woman, singing for over a million people in live performances and selling over 8 million records, she decided to pursue a solo path.  Prior to that, in 2012, she was named Best Female Vocalist at the Irish Music Awards.

Among many other acting and musical pursuits, Chloe has recently been touring a show called Chloe Agnew — An Irish Heart. The show features renowned Irish tenor Dermot Kiernan, Irish dancer Scott Porter, formerly of Riverdance and past producer and CEO of Celtic Woman, and all backed up by the distinguished Atlanta Pops Orchestra.

We are very fortunate to have this show coming to the Niswonger in Van Wert on St. Patrick’s Day this year.  As you can imagine, getting a show of this magnitude actually on St. Patrick’s Day is quite a coup for us at the Niswonger.

Last year, this show played at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Greeneville, Tennessee, and was so well received that Scott and Nikki Niswonger agreed to help us bring it to Van Wert.  We have called it our Founder’s Choice event. It will be a grand event on Saturday, March 17, beginning at 7:30 p.m.  Wear your green and don’t be surprised if you see other green surprises at the Niswonger that evening.

If you love beautiful music, with high stepping energetic dancing, angelic singing, and who knows what other surprises that may be a part of the evening, then you won’t want to miss this one.  It could be that one concert of the year everyone is talking about how amazed they were with it. There seems to be a handful of what I call “sleeper” concerts that just amaze people beyond their expectations!

You can get tickets online at or by calling the box office at 419.238.1743 between the hours of noon and 4 p.m. any day of the week. Bring a friend or friends and make grand, green evening out of it. Check our website for dining partners who will welcome you and help make your evening even more special before the Chloe Agnew — An Irish Heart concert with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra.  I can’t think of a better way to spend St. Patrick’s Day this year!

I would also like to remind non-profit organizations that they can enter the food vendor lottery for Fountain Park Summer Music concerts by contacting the Van Wert County Foundation office.  The only stipulation is that you are a non-profit organization in Van Wert or Paulding County and would have the ability to serve large crowds. We will be releasing the summer line-up of concerts soon.  Stay tuned and check out the media partner you are reading this article through.

Right now, though, think green and I’ll look forward to seeing you at the Niswonger on Saturday, March 17 for Chloe Agnew and the Atlanta Pops Orchestra.


POSTED: 03/09/18 at 9:33 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

The days are getting longer; at least daylight is. We are beginning to get reacquainted with the sun. So it must be time to start thinking about summer. During the month of March, our office at The Van Wert County Foundation will be accepting names of non-profit organizations interested in being considered to serve food for Fountain Park Summer Music Series concerts. Call 419.238.1743, stop by 138 E. Main St., or email me at to enter your organization in the lottery. We need the name of your organization and a contact person with phone and email address.

The only restrictions are that you must be a non-profit organization, be located in Van Wert or Paulding County, and must not have served food the previous summer. If your organization was selected and did serve food last year, you must take one year off and then can re-enter the following year.

The 2018 Fountain Park Summer Music Series is just about finished and we will be making the announcement in the next couple weeks. This will be the 17th annual Fountain Park Summer Music Series sponsored by The Van Wert County Foundation, in cooperation with the Van Wert City Parks & Recreation Department.

With the new year come a couple changes. Kevin Longstreth has taken over as the head of the City Parks & Recreation Department. Sue Heppeard retired at the beginning of this year after many years of faithful service. I thank Sue for her many years of cooperation and look forward to working with Kevin in his new capacity.

Another addition is the redesigned landscape slope to the park. We are hopeful this makes the view of the stage better for everyone. The middle of the park used to have a mound halfway back that inhibited view of the stage if you sat on the north end of the park. That mound was removed and now a gradual slope has been taken all the way back to the gazebo.

It won’t be long before the newly seeded grass starts to turn green in the park and we will all begin thinking of spring and summer … and concerts in Fountain Park.

This weekend is a big one for the Niswonger Performing Arts Center as Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella moves into Van Wert for two big shows this Saturday; one at 2 p.m. and the other at 7:30 that evening. This show comes in four 53-foot trailer trucks. With the enormity of the show, they will start moving in and setting up Friday night. There are a few tickets remaining for each show, although a few more remain for the evening show than the afternoon matinee.

My wife and I had the pleasure of seeing this show on Broadway a couple years ago and I really enjoyed it.  It has some amazing scenery, staging, acting and of course the magic of Rogers & Hammerstein music.

On a local level, we wish the bands and choirs the best of luck as they prepare for District Music Contest the following week.  I know they are working hard to perfect their music to perform for OMEA judges. Students learn so much from this experience!  These performances are actually open to the public, so come and support your local high school band or choir.  The contest for our district will be held March 9 and 10 in Van Wert at the Niswonger PAC.

There is always music in the air in Van Wert. Stop and enjoy it while you can.


POSTED: 03/02/18 at 9:43 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

The Niswonger Performing Arts Center just announced the new 2018-19 Enrich Community Concert Series this past weekend. It went on sale this past Tuesday to members, starting with the top level Maestro members.

Next week, sales will open to Principal members and the following week to Musician members. General sales for the series package will begin March 12. More details can be read at or you may stop by the box office and pick up a new brochure.  If you are on our mailing list, you should be receiving a copy in the mail soon.

We are very excited about the line-up for next year’s series. It includes two of our all-time most popular concerts in the past few years. It also includes two new concerts that fit perfectly with the philosophy of what Community Concerts are, and have always been, about: bringing world-class entertainment to you. Enrich is the perfect name for this Community Concert Series.

It all starts on Saturday, September 29, with one of the most popular Doo-Wop singing groups: Under the Streetlamp. These four energetic singers were founded from the sensational Tony Award-winning Jersey Boys Broadway show. In a short amount of time, they have become America’s favorite vocal group, singing the very best of Doo-Wop, Motown, and old time Rock ‘n Roll hit songs. They first came to the Niswonger five years ago and we knew we needed to have them back. You will love them as much as the sold-out house did back in 2013.

We then move into Christmas with perhaps one of the most intriguing and inspiring shows of the year.  It is titled All is Calm — The Christmas Truce of 1914 and will be our second event of the series on Sunday, December 16, at 3 p.m. Many of you are aware of the story of when during World War I, Allied and German soldiers put down their guns and began singing Christmas carols across enemy lines. This stage musical is a re-creation of that inspiring time when music and love brought enemies together on that magical Christmas Eve night in 1914. You will be transported to those enemy lines when a German soldier bravely stepped into No Man’s Land singing “Stille Nacht” and enemies became brothers on the battle field.

I can’t tell you how fortunate we are to have The King’s Singers as our third concert of the series on Saturday, February 16, 2019. I heard them in Fort Wayne a year and a half ago and have been talking with them ever since. I was blown away with their musicality and smooth blend and intricate harmonies.

Some of you remember them from years gone by. They actually got their start in 1968 as six recently graduated choral scholars from King’s College in Cambridge, England. The group became a weekly fixture on prime-time television singing popular music never usually touched by choirs. They have sung on most of the world’s greatest stages, from London’s Royal Prince Albert Hall to the Opera House in Sydney (that’s Australia, not Ohio), and, of course, New York’s Carnegie Hall. And now you get to hear them in Van Wert at the Niswonger!

We finish the Enrich Community Concert Series with perhaps the hottest performers we have ever had. The Texas Tenors will be returning with an all new show, “Let Freedom Sing.”  Some fortunate high school singers in the area will be featured on stage with these three tenors and their band to provide a huge finale to this show. We sold out two shows last year and just knew we needed to bring them back to Van Wert again (and again). So back by popular demand will be the Texas Tenors in “Let Freedom Sing” to finish off another spectacular Enrich Community Concert Series.

Since 1953, Community Concerts have been in Van Wert County and I am so pleased to continue this tradition in this cool and up-to-date series that still preserves the best qualities we have loved for many years at one affordable price. We have worked diligently to put this together much earlier than in the past because of when our last concert of the current series fell. This past Sunday was our last of the current series.  I thank my staff and committee members in helping get this ready to launch.

I hope you are as excited with this series as we are. Watch the mail for your mailer or check on-line for more details. In the meantime, we still have five or six great concerts and events for you to enjoy yet this season.

Remember, “Ohio Has Talent!” is this Saturday night. Just a few tickets remain. You can purchase them at the Niswonger Box Office and the money goes to a tremendous cause in Community Health Professionals.


POSTED: 02/21/18 at 10:25 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

What seemed like a rather uneventful winter at the Niswonger has turned into a very exciting time. This season seemed to be front-loaded with a lot of spectacular concerts and events.  Six events sold-out in the first three months and those that didn’t were 80-90 percent filled with ticket buyers.

It just so happened that many of the big shows fell in the first half of the season, although the ones we do have this winter and spring are spectacular. Having a little more time earlier this winter has given us a chance to get a jump start on next season. As a matter of fact, we have the new 2018-19 Enrich Community Concert Series all tied up and will be announcing it this Sunday at Cirque Zuma Zuma. We will have a promo video for you to preview, along with some printed material.

This year’s series included The Five Browns, the Canton Symphony with Gerhardt Zimmermann, Christmas with the Texas Tenors, and Cirque Zuma Zuma. Now, it may be hard to outdo that, but my staff feel this new one may just accomplish it. They are super excited! I hope you will be too. Members: Maestro, Principal, and Musician members will be able to purchase their seats for the new series beginning February 20. The box office will be closed February 19 for President’s Day.

Before we get to Sunday, don’t forget about the added Broadway Show Amazing Grace this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. This inspirational show was just recently added and gives inspiration, education, and entertainment to our already outstanding season. You can get tickets now or at the door this Friday night. The story behind this beloved hymn is truly inspiring and, well, amazing!  The Box Office will open at 6:30 p.m. Friday before the show.

A few other amazing things are coming soon to the Niswonger that I think you would enjoy. On Thursday, February 22, at 7:30 p.m., the Miami University Wind Ensemble, conducted by Professor Gary Speck, will be giving a free concert in the VWCF Saltzgaber Music Hall of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. They are on their way to perform at the prestigious College Band Director’s National Association Conference held this year at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Robert Sloan, director of bands at Van Wert High School, set up this free performance for the public to enjoy. Miami band students and directors will also work with Celina and Van Wert High School Band students during the day in clinic settings. This is a great opportunity for these kids, their band directors, and we are proud to be able to host the Miami University Wind Ensemble in concert.

One last mention in this week’s column of amazing things coming to the Niswonger is Miss Addison Agen, runner-up in NBC’s “The Voice”. Of course, it was hard not to hear about Addison and her singing, as she hails from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Since her appearance in December on national TV, Addison has sold out the Embassy Theater in Fort Wayne twice and now wants to play the Niswonger.

She will be giving a concert in Van Wert on Sunday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m. Her tickets are currently on sale at the Niswonger Box Office. If you want to see and hear this young 16-year-old talent, get your tickets now.

Tickets are also currently on sale for “Ohio Has Talent”, that wonderful fundraiser for Community Health Professionals. It is coming to the Niswonger on Saturday, February 24, and is loaded with many talented individuals from throughout the region. Support Community Health Professionals and be a part of the excitement of “Ohio Has Talent”.

Phew! How’s that for a rather uneventful winter? Build it and they will come! We did and the Niswonger is now the place for some of the most exciting musical and performing arts events in the entire region!

I’ll see you soon.


POSTED: 02/16/18 at 9:26 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

“Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognized songs in the world! It has been sung in churches all over the world, recorded in many different languages, been put to different melodies, and has impacted millions of people on earth.  People who do not or have not ever attended a church service can probably still sing the words to this beloved hymn.

Some may be aware of the story behind its writing, but many people have probably never heard of how this famous song came about.  The name John Newton (no, not the guy who got hit on the head with an apple!) is someone everyone should get to know.  He was born in 1725, the son of John Newton Sr., a ship builder in London.  His mother was a devout Christian who taught her son to pray and read scripture, but she sadly passed away when John was seven years of age.  John’s father and eventual step-mother took charge of the boy and let him run wild, although he would often return to thoughts of his dear mother’s Christian love and care she showed him.

Now a young brash seaman, Newton experienced a life changing adventure during a severe storm at sea.  Shouting out to God to save him, this began a journey which changed his life forever.  There is so much more to tell about the life of John Newton, but I think the best way to learn and really experience it, is to watch it portrayed on stage.

A movie about the life changing story of John Newton came out in 2006. It starred Albert Finney as Newton and Ioan Gruffud as William Wilberforce. It aptly portrayed Newton as a penitent haunted by the ghosts of 20,000 slaves. This experience eventually led to the penning of the words which millions now sing as Amazing Grace. By the way, did you know the original title to the song was “Faith’s Review and Expectation?”  I like “Amazing Grace” better!

In 2015, the Musical-Amazing Grace hit Broadway. It went to Chicago for a two-week run and was held over for a full week due to popular demand. I tell you all about this because we at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center have the good fortune to host this Broadway show. The date is coming real soon: Friday, February 16! It will be a 7:30 p.m. show.

I was contacted just a few days ago by the producer to see if we could fill a gap they had on their tour due to some unforeseen circumstances. Knowing we have little time to get the word out, we worked out a deal because I felt this story is one everyone needs to see, hear, and experience. This dramatic stage musical production will have you mesmerized, tearful, and celebrant, all within a two-hour period of time.  I am told that by the time they finally get around to singing “Amazing Grace”, there isn’t a dry eye in the house.

The story is one of a penitent man who finds God during a storm on the high seas and ends up serving the God who gives him the words to write a song that will, in turn, change many more lives for years to come.

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found; was blind but now I see.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun; we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.”

This Friday night performance would make a great church outing, but mobilize quickly. It’s less than two weeks away!  I invite you to get your tickets now at the Niswonger Box Office or online at NPACVW.ORG and experience how this man who was once lost and blind, became the vehicle for many to be found and see.


POSTED: 02/10/18 at 9:32 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I have to admit some things when I headline my column “My Favorite Time of the Year!”  First of all, personally, Christmas and Easter are my favorite times of the year because of my Christian beliefs and the significance of these holidays. However, if you are talking about my favorite time of the year in my profession of presenting concerts for the public, this is it.

This Sunday at 3 p.m. in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in Van Wert, I get to help present the 15th annual Van Wert County Young Artists Recital. There will be 53 student musicians from Crestview, Van Wert, and Lincolnview high schools performing what I call “legitimate” pieces of music: that is, pieces of music written to teach proper performance technique, phrasing, and interpretation. Solos and ensembles of all kinds of instruments and voice will be showcased on the recital.

Some may have forgotten or never knew that my background and training is in music education. My first career was teaching instrumental music in the public schools. I taught two years at Hicksville Exempted Village Schools and then moved back in the area when Clark Fleming hired me at Crestview Schools. I taught there for four years. That was followed by 14 years in the business field and now am in my 16th year presenting concerts with The Van Wert County Foundation.

This is all said because my first love was teaching young kids music. I get so much gratification in encouraging young people to learn about and love making music. I think there is so much that music teaches young people. Studies have shown that kids who are involved with music achieve higher test scores and achievements than those who never learn music.

You’ve probably seen some of those bumper stickers and t-shirts that have a bunch of notes on them with the saying, “If you can read this, thank a music teacher!”  It’s hard for me to realize, but I’m sure that music reading is like a foreign language to many. I wish it weren’t so, because I think so many lose out of that joy of making music.

Well, the Young Artists Recital this Sunday will feature some of the most talented student musicians in our county who have learned to read music at a rather high level. They prepared solos and ensemble music for the OMEA contest held two weeks ago at St. Marys Memorial High School. The best of those have been recommended by their school music teachers to perform their pieces now for a public audience consisting of you- the public, fellow students from all three schools, family members, school administrators and other music teachers in Van Wert County.

I hope you are able to attend and encourage these fine young musicians. Over the past 15 years, participants have gone on to form careers in music as well as many other successful fields.  

The church will open its doors to the public beginning at 2 p.m.  A good time to arrive would be between 2:30 and 3 p.m.  We will begin right at 3 p.m.  There seems to be a little football event going on this Sunday later that evening.  I think they call it the Super Bowl!  But we will be done well in advance of that.

There will be a reception following the recital that all are welcome to be a part of, where you can greet the musicians and congratulate them.

So, this is why it is my favorite time of the year.  It’s Young Artists Recital time and I get so encouraged knowing there are students learning the one thing I love and has inspired me throughout my lifetime- Music!

This Saturday is also a big day for younger kids as “Dinosaur Zoo” comes to town for two big performances at 1 and 4:30 p.m. in the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. Amazing huge dinosaur puppets will take kids on a magical journey of entertainment and education. Get tickets at the door if you haven’t already purchased yours.  Your kids and grandkids will thank you!


POSTED: 02/01/18 at 9:09 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

This Thursday, January 25, the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce is honoring a Van Wert native with an award rarely given — the Cornerstone Award. This 1965 Van Wert High School graduate is someone who left his hometown, went to college at Purdue University, started his own business, and moved to Greeneville, Tennessee, where he has lived ever since.

Many people grow up in their hometown, leave, and then rarely return. It seems lately that many people have been pining over those “good old days” of growing up in Van Wert. Those of you on Facebook have probably seen the many postings from “You might be from Van Wert if…”  Growing up in Van Wert really was a special time for those of us with more years behind us than in front. I only hope that kids today feel the same way!

One individual in particular, did not forget his days of growing up in Van Wert. He spent his entire youth experiencing all this town had to offer a young boy. He attended Van Wert City Schools, played in the city parks, attended church, played football in Eggerss Stadium, and learned to fly airplanes at the Van Wert County Airport.  I’m sure there is much more he did that he may not even tell!

It has now been 53 years since Scott Niswonger left Van Wert for Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Although Scott still had family and friends in Van Wert, many of us didn’t know who he was until nearly 15 years ago. That’s when talk of a performing arts center in Van Wert began. Someone who knew Scott mentioned that he was very philanthropic, thanks to the success he experienced through the hard work he invested in building his businesses.

I still remember the words shared with us when Scott was asked if he would like to help Van Wert build a performing arts center. It was something like, “You know, no one has ever asked if I would like to do something for my hometown. I’ve been involved in projects throughout Tennessee and Purdue University, but never my hometown. I would love to be involved, but I need for you to dream with me.”  Well, the rest is history!

Scott got involved in the PAC project that would later bear his name: the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio. Obviously, Scott gave financially to the project, but I will never forget the inspiration he gave to raise a city of under 11,000 people and a county of nearly 28,000 people to unimaginable heights and accomplishments.

He took a very nice, but rather typical school auditorium, to a performing arts center that has become one of the leaders in the Midwest United States. Scott did not pay for the entire project, but his inspiration made it possible for our community to raise close to $10 million and build what many performers and visitors have exclaimed is one of the finest facilities of its kind.

Once a fundraising committee was established, he made sure each member attended the opening concert at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Greeneville, Tennessee. He personally chartered a fleet of jets, including his own, and flew us down for the opening ceremonies and concert featuring legendary singer Gladys Knight. He also showed us what a classy event was like. Bottom line? Many community leaders were inspired and took Scott’s message to heart: “If we can build something like this in Greeneville, Tennessee, you can certainly do this in Van Wert.” And we did! Scott inspired us along the way in many other ways too many to mention.

Since that time, Scott and Nikki (Elliot) Niswonger, also a Van Wert native, have inspired and been very involved in their hometown in other ways such as Niswonger Scholars, our new Franklin Park, and just now as a partner in a new housing development we will see developing this spring behind the houses on Shannon Street extending to the NPAC and Van Wert High School/Middle School. There have been many other projects Scott and Nikki have been involved in that many don’t even know about.

This Thursday is a chance for Van Wert to say thank you to a young man who grew up to live his life by the motto “Learn, Earn, Return.” Thank you, Scott, for not forgetting Van Wert. Van Wert will never forget you!


POSTED: 01/24/18 at 10:49 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

You probably thought dinosaurs only existed millions of years ago.  As a matter of fact, when I asked my phone how many years ago did dinosaurs exist, it gave me the answer: 65 million years ago. Well, even I wasn’t around then!

But, believe it or not, dinosaurs will be reappearing on the stage of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on Saturday, February 3. In a show called Dinosaur Zoo, this PBS kids show will take you back some 65 million years ago. Huge puppets will be on stage as dinosaurs in an entertaining stage show that will delight young children.  It will be a highly entertaining, informative and amazing event!

There are two shows: one at 1 p.m. and the other at 4:30 that afternoon. Tickets begin at just $20. Your kids and grandkids will be awe-struck, amazed and thrilled that you brought them to the Niswonger.  And as a special opportunity just announced, the producers are offering a special VIP Meet & Greet event with the MC of the show and many of the dinosaur puppets.  Ask the Niswonger box office about this pre-show opportunity that will offer photo sessions and an information packed time with the stars of the show.

Doctors Jessica and Carl Jeffery of Jeffery-Mohr Dentistry are helping sponsor this great kid’s show and will be on hand to welcome all young children to the Niswonger. The Robideau Family and Dark Horse Productions are also supporting this show. This is just another opportunity for young children to enjoy world-class entertainment at the Niswonger. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce live entertainment to young audiences and thank our sponsors for helping make it possible.

Check with the box office now for great seats to either of the shows.  Each one will last just under an hour, so it should be perfect for young ages.  You can also buy tickets at any time on-line at NPACVW.ORG.

In looking at the box office activity, Cinderella on March 3 and Kenny G on March 24 just went over the 1,000 tickets sold mark. They are both selling quickly, so don’t miss out. Lonestar is up next on January 27 and they are nearly sold-out. MJ Live on February 10 and Cirque Zuma Zuma on February 18 are in the same situation. Always check with the box office though before giving up.

While all this activity is coming up soon, we are busy constructing a whole new season. More stars and events will be coming your way again in 2018 and 2019.

Hold on, the weather is cold and snowy, but the days are getting longer. It won’t be long before we see sunshine again and then start thinking about Fountain Park and summer concerts.


POSTED: 01/19/18 at 8:52 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert