The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Jul. 30, 2014


Music in Van Wert

By: Paul Hoverman


It seems we just listened to Papa Doo Run Run in the park during the Peony/ArtRageous Festival.  And now we are about to hit August and our big finale concert in Fountain Park!  This Friday night, we are proud to present a totally new band to our area called Never Stop Believin’, a tribute to the band Journey.

As you know, we certainly try to offer a variety of music for many to enjoy during the summer.  I realize not everything is everyone’s cup of tea, but I certainly appreciate people’s openness to different types of music.

This Friday night, the music of the classic Eighties rock band, Journey will fill the air in Fountain Park.  If you are a fan of classic rock music, this is one you certainly don’t want to miss.  When you look under the heading of “genres” for Journey, you find rock, jazz, fusion, hard rock, progressive rock and soft rock.  Between 1978 and 1987, this band was one of the most popular on the airwaves.  Since then, their music has become perhaps even more popular and crosses generations.

Never Stop Believin'If you enjoyed the music of Chicago and the concert given by Brass Transit a few weeks ago, I think you will enjoy Never Stop Believin’.  Although the music of Chicago actually started about a decade earlier, they are cut from similar molds.  For those of you hard core Journey lovers, lead singer, Donnie Ferrari of Never Stop Believin’ will amaze you with his sound alike vocals of Steve Perry.  This is why I actually booked them.  They come to us from Florida and I think they will draw a huge crowd in the park.

It will be a lively night in Fountain Park as we put to bed our 13th Fountain Park Summer Music Series.  The Women’s Bowling Association is serving up the food and marketers will be in the park for you to enjoy browsing before and during the event.  Wassenberg Art Center has enjoyed hosting many after-concert patrons who wish to continue the night.  They will once again be open and would love to see you after the concert to have a drink and talk about the concert.

Could you believe last Friday when the Simon & Garfunkel tribute Scarborough Fair started singing Bridge Over Troubled Water, a rainbow appeared in the southern sky?  Proof once again that God does exist and blessed us that evening. Memorable!

Thank you all who have supported the 2014 Fountain Park Summer Music Series.  The Van Wert County Foundation is proud to offer these concerts for you to enjoy and we look forward to returning next year in the park.  Now, don’t forget that the Van Wert Community Concert Band will be in concert in Fountain Park on August 15.  I would love to see a big crowd for them!  August 8 is the Rib Fest, which is why we decided to end our season this year on August 1.  Many things are still happening right up until we open the exciting Niswonger season on October 4 with the Annie Moses Band.

Lastly, the news of the firing of Jon Waters as the OSU Band director is saddening.  We were fortunate to host them at the Niswonger last year and I may share some thoughts with you next week.


POSTED: 07/29/14 at 11:29 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

It’s been three years since Jeb and Joc Guthrie discovered Van Wert, Ohio.  These brothers, who hail from New Jersey, just outside New York City, fell in love with our town of Van Wert.  I still remember the letter they sent after their 2011 performance in Fountain Park.  They mentioned how much they loved the atmosphere of Fountain Park, the people, our downtown, its buildings, and especially the hospitality they received during their first visit to Van Wert.

The feeling was mutual, as our Fountain Park audience loved the music of the Guthrie Brothers who go by the name of Scarborough Fair — an appropriate name taken from one of Simon & Garfunkel’s all-time hit songs.  But then again, there are so many songs sung by Simon & Garfunkel that have become common folklore of American Music.  Just to jog your memory a bit, consider a few of these titles: “Sounds of Silence,” “Mrs. Robinson,” “Cecelia,” ”America,” “Feelin’ Groovy,” (I know, it’s really “The 59th Street Bridge Song”) “I am a Rock,” and of course “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” just to name a few.

I don’t know about you, but when I think of Simon & Garfunkel, I think of their reunion benefit concert in September of 1981 in Central Park, downtown Manhattan.  They played for an estimated half a million people!  If a tribute to any performer was ever due, it would be Simon & Garfunkel.  And I can’t think of any better two people to give tribute to their music than the Guthrie Brothers.  I originally heard them sing on an Internet clip I was sent.  Since then, I have heard them sing in Fountain Park in 2011 and then again in New York City this past January.  Instantly, I knew it was time to bring them back to Van Wert… and they were willing, able and excited to return to Fountain Park to share some of the great music of one of folk-rock’s all-time greatest duos.

The concert is this Friday, July 25, at 7 p.m., and is free to the public. Just bring a lounge chair and claim your spot for some wonderful music under the stars.  If you come a little early, you might want to browse some of the marketers who will be set up surrounding the park.  They will be providing a variety of goods and produce including a large selection of cookies by Flour Loves Sugar — homegrown produce — artisan jewelry and crafts -fresh baked goods -homemade salves and lotions -snacks and more!  These efforts are coordinated with the Main Street Organization of Van Wert.

Bring your appetites with you, too, as the Veterans of Foreign Wars Men’s Auxiliary will be serving food before and during the concert out of the Rotary concession stand beginning at 5:30 p.m.

I thought you might find it interesting to see who is leading the PAC(K) in ticket sales for the upcoming Niswonger season. In first place is the Kenny Rogers Christmas Show with guest star Linda Davis. In a close second is Country music sensation Josh Turner and guest artist Katie Armiger, followed by The Temptations. All three concerts are more than halfway sold out by those bundling three or more concerts as part of our Select Series. You can do the same and reserve your seat before (and IF) remaining tickets go on  sale approximately 90 days before the event.  Call the box office at 419.238.NPAC (6722) or order online at NPACVW.ORG.

We have seen a lot of buying of Niswonger tickets coming from all over the region.  Our summer interns, Caitlin Hancock and Alina Osika, have been on the road sharing our upcoming season to people throughout the area. Remember to sign up for the opportunity of winning a Grand Series of concerts this year at the Niswonger. You can do this at the information table this Friday as well as receive information on the entire season.

I hear a lot of people say they have shared a catalog with friends and acquaintances from out of town. That’s a great idea!  Thank you for being good ambassadors for the PAC and Van Wert. We now have handy little business card size schedules of the upcoming Niswonger season you can pick up at the information table the Friday night too. Just another handy tool to pass on to others about the great things coming this year to Van Wert and the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

I look forward to seeing you this Friday in Central … err, I mean Fountain Park, as we enjoy the music of Simon & Garfunkel.


POSTED: 07/22/14 at 3:24 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

The idea of sharing this information with you came to me as I was preparing content for the soon-to-be Niswonger PAC website.  On our new website, which we hope to unveil sometime next month, we will have a lot of new information for everyone to browse about everything associated with the Niswonger.  One of those items I have been working on is the history of Community Concerts in Van Wert.  I think it is something that should not be forgotten because of its significant contribution to the cultural life of Van Wert County citizens.

As you read this article, many of you will recall the names mentioned as respected and stalwart citizens of Van Wert from the past.  I hope you enjoy reminiscing with me.  My involvement with Community Concerts does not go back nearly as far as some of you reading, but I am taking from the history of the organization, which much of it was provided by Arla Allen, a long-time historian and respected performing art enthusiast and very fine singer of her time. Thank you, dear Arla!

The idea of a Community Concert Association began in the spring of 1953 when a group of interested citizens of Van Wert County met with a representative from Columbia Artists in New York City.  Community Concert Associations were springing up across the country with the idea of “providing a Carnegie Hall in every town.”  According to a Times-Bulletin report on Wednesday, October 21, 1953, that meeting took place and the following officers were elected to head the first Van Wert County Community Concert Association: Herbert Jones, supervisor (band and choir director) for Van Wert City Schools, as president; Mrs. James Johnson as secretary; and James Hall as treasurer.

The stated purpose was to bring a minimum of three concerts to Van Wert during the winter months and sell memberships in advance.  This would allow a budget to be set for purchasing concerts.  The original goal was set for 900 memberships, which was the capacity of the Lincoln School Auditorium.  A campaign week was set.  Headquarters were set up in the Hotel Marsh Lobby and a temporary telephone line would be installed for accepting phone calls for Community Concert business only.  An army of nearly 100 volunteers would canvas the area selling season memberships.  The list of volunteers reads like a “who’s who” of cultural names of Van Wert County from the 1950s.  I know some of you reading this today might even appear on that list.  After the campaign was finished, no more tickets would be sold.  Get them that week or be shut out for the year!  Once again, this was the one sure-fire way of setting a budget and guaranteeing no financial loss.  Oh, and by the way… an adult membership cost $6 and student memberships were $3.

The headliner of the very first season was the famed dePaur Infantry Chorus, which in years since World War II had grown to be one of the most popular concerts available.  Remember, this was before the Beatles and even before Elvis!  My, how popular musical tastes have evolved!

By 1959, it appears that the majority of the concerts were moved to the Marsh School Auditorium, more suited as a concert hall. It is also noted that the Marsh School donated its space to the association.  For the next 48 years, most concerts were held at the Marsh Auditorium, although I can remember presenting the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with famous trombonist Buddy Morrow leading the band in the Lincoln Auditorium, as well as a quartet of pianos who fit much better on the gym floor of the Lincoln Auditorium.  I can also remember moving one concert to the new Crestview Auditeria in the late 1980s.  And before then, it was stated that Lincolnview High School also hosted a few concerts.

So many wonderful people were involved in Community Concerts over the years, but a few certainly come to my mind, such as Mrs. Anne (Dr. Harold) Smith, Mrs. Robert (Joanne) Koehl, Luther Cox, Jim (VW Junior High band director) and Delana Galbreath, Jay Hall (VWHS band director,) L.W. Schaufelberger (VWHS choir director), Mrs. Edwin (Marilyn) Etzler, Mrs. Larry (Gloria) Wendel, Georgia and Orin Deal, and Rev. and Mrs. Kurt Bickel: the one who eventually got my wife and I involved serving on the board (back in the time, it seemed appropriate to list names under their husband’s names). There are so many others I could and probably should name, but the list goes on and on.

Today, community concerts live on as the Community Concert Series at the Niswonger.  Some things have changed, but the general premise continues of bringing world-class entertainment to the general public at an affordable price. The thing I love most about community concerts is that we can expose people to outstanding musical performers they may have not heard of, but really enjoy.  This is part of our educational mission of exposing new music to concertgoers.  A perfect example of this is the Habaneros from Cuba, a string quartet and clarinetist who will perform this season.  I really believe those who attend will be thoroughly entertained and feel educated and culturally diversified.

On behalf of the many citizens of Van Wert County and surrounding area who donated their time because of their love and passion for music, I thank you for continuing your support of Community Concerts in Van Wert.  Check us out at the Niswonger website: NPACVW.ORG or stop by the box office to discover the wonderful and entertaining world of Community Concerts at the Niswonger!


POSTED: 07/15/14 at 9:56 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

As I was standing in the Grand Lobby and Lecture Hall today, talking to all those who came to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center to purchase their Select Series tickets, it dawned on me how many people it takes to make a successful season.  I reminisce back to when we first got started in 2007.  Many people, corporations, businesses and organizations had just given a total amount of nearly $10 million to a project that had no guarantee of success.  And now today, we have people from all over the region waiting to select seats for shows and concerts we think will attract interest.

Although a fair amount of research showed there appeared to be an interest in a performance venue that could attract outstanding national and international performers, there was no guarantee. Others and I deduced it would take a strong local support, but also regional as well as corporate and business support.  Now in our seventh complete season, we have grown our offerings and obtained support from so many, I am still amazed!

Our season sponsors this year are Statewide Ford and Lincoln and Van Wert Federal Savings Bank.  A total of more than 50 sponsors from Lima to Ft. Wayne and Decatur to Celina and parts between, have joined a strong Van Wert contingency to help bring this season to you.  In addition, a growing number of members, both corporate and individuals are joining the many who have purchased Grand Series and Select Series tickets.

Tuesday, July 8, began our selling of Select Series tickets.  This is where you get to select your own concerts, creating your own personal series.  We have been selling on-line as well as to those wishing to make their purchases in person at the Niswonger Box Office.  Some concerts have actually sold out by those purchasing Select Series.  All you need to do is look through your season catalog (which should arrive this week, if not already!) or on-line at and select at least three concerts.  This allows you to reserve your seats now and gives better choice of seats.

On behalf of the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation, the staff and its many volunteers, I thank all of you for your support in making the Niswonger Performing Arts Center the premier performance venue of northwest Ohio!

One change that just came through this week is the concert with the Newsboys.  Due to a clerical error in the contract, the correct date for the Newsboys concert is Saturday, March 14, rather than the printed March 21. Remember also that any remaining tickets may be purchased approximately 90 days before the event.  All this information may be found in our brand new season catalog that should arrive in your mail this week.  If you would like more copies to share with a friend, stop by the Niswonger Box Office or The Van Wert County Foundation office if you are downtown.

This Friday night in Fountain Park has been declared Motown Friday!  The Motown Sounds of Touch, fresh off their NBC-TV debut, will be singing and dancing their “soulful smooth” sounds into your hearts.  You will enjoy familiar songs from some of Motown’s all-time greatest recording stars such as The Commodores, Lionel Richie, Marvin Gaye, The Spinners, Dianna Ross & the Supremes, and so many more.  You might even hear some music from The Temptations, as a bit of a warm-up to the actual Temptations who will perform in the Niswonger on April 25 of next year.

The outstanding young men of DeMolay will be trying to impress you with their delicious menu of fine food, beginning at 5:30 p.m., while the concert begins at 7 that evening.  Once again, we hope for beautiful weather for a wonderful concert under the starry skies of Fountain Park.

Thank you all for your support in making Van Wert a destination for outstanding entertainment!


POSTED: 07/08/14 at 10:57 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Hard to believe, but it’s the Fourth of July weekend already! If you are looking for an exciting and appropriate way to celebrate our country’s independence, we have the answer for you right here at home in Van Wert.  With the Fourth of July falling on a Friday this year, we are very fortunate to be one of a very few communities to offer a symphony orchestra on the day of the holiday.  The Lima Pops Orchestra will present an All-American concert entitled “Celebrate America!”

Maestro Crafton Beck will make a return to Fountain Park with a program guaranteed to lift every American citizen’s spirits.  The program is filled with inspirational music from the opening “Star-Spangled Banner” arranged by Zaninelli to the 1812 Overture, complete with everything you may expect.  In between, you will enjoy other patriotic favorites, as well as music that transcends all ages.  Broadway tunes, including selections from the beloved Oklahoma! sung by our own Mary Ann Falk, and movie themes such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Around the World in 80 Days, are just a portion of the show.

There are many communities that would love to have such a celebration concert such as we will have in Van Wert, Boston and Washington, D.C. Invite your friends to Fountain Park and enjoy a beautiful and fun Independence Day celebration. The weather looks like it will be gorgeous and pleasant. Food will be provided in the park by our friends at Youth for Christ.

This is just the pinnacle of the day’s celebrations.  Actually, many activities will highlight our “Holiday at Home” celebration.  From 7-11 a.m., the Veterans of Foreign Wars post is serving a pancake and sausage breakfast at Post 5803, located on North Shannon Street.  There is also the 21st annual Firecracker Bike Tour, which starts at 7:30 a.m., where bikers can experience the rich farmlands of what was once the Great Black Swamp. By 11 a.m. you will want to make your way to Main Street for the annual Independence Day patriotic parade.  Right after the parade, this would be a great opportunity to then take your lawn chairs down to the park for the evening concert. Then, head to the Van Wert County Historical Museum complex, where there will be food vendors (Van Wert Rotary Club, among others), arts, crafts demonstrations and music.  Gather with friends and visitors for a relaxing time.

Food for supper will be available in Fountain Park beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 7 that evening.  The concert should be over around 9 p.m.  That will give you enough time to leisurely make your way to Smiley Park to enjoy the fireworks display that will begin around dusk (10 p.m. or so).

As you can see, this is truly a Holiday at Home experience you will want to invite your friends to.  It’s all happening right here in Van Wert!  Happy birthday, America!

Seats are beginning to fill up for some of the concerts at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center already.  With the announcement of the new season, NPAC Members have been purchasing seats and now we are selling Grand Series tickets.  This is for people who want everything on the menu.  A very important date coming up is Tuesday, July 8.  This is when the Select Series goes on sale.  You select exactly which concerts you are interested in attending and create your own little package of three or more events.  Three to five events receive a 10 percent discount and six or more receive a 15 percent discount.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to take advantage of this opportunity beginning July 8.  Some of the very “high profile” concerts actually sell out, leaving those wanting single tickets out of luck.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact the box office at 419.238.NPAC (6722.)

Enjoy the weekend and all the festivities as we celebrate America!


POSTED: 07/01/14 at 8:05 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

In the concert-scheduling business, people have their favorites, just as concert attenders do.  Although I enjoy most of the ones I help select, at the top of the list has to be the music of the band Chicago.  The music of this iconic rock/jazz fusion band has persevered over generations since the 1960s, when the band broke on the scene as the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).  It wasn’t long before they just shortened their name to Chicago … and the rest, as they say, is history.

Maybe it’s the great horn section that combines with the typical keys: bass, guitar, drums and vocals; maybe it’s the great writing, or maybe it’s the variety of musical styles Chicago offers in such a sophisticated way. But, whatever it is, Chicago’s music is as popular today as it was in my brother’s day!

This Friday night in Van Wert’s Fountain Park, the best tribute band I have ever heard of the band Chicago, will be performing.  Brass Transit comes to us from Toronto, Canada, and has enjoyed a growing success even from two years ago when the band tried to perform in Fountain Park.  We had some rain that moved their performance into the Niswonger PAC.  Those who braved the trip to the south side of Van Wert discovered what a great musical ensemble Brass Transit is.  I just feel that any group that has a hit song such as “Saturday in the Park” just needs the opportunity to perform in Fountain Park, so we are bringing them back.

I think you will really enjoy this band.  You will certainly recognize song after song as they tear through the Chicago songbook.  You may have forgotten some of them, but will certainly enjoy hearing them live!  As always, the concert begins at 7 p.m. and food will be available beginning at 5:30 p.m., this time provided by the Youth For Christ organization in Van Wert.

Thank you to all who braved the weather this past Friday to hear Tom Rigney and Flambeau.  What a fun and musical group to hear!  I told Tom, who by the way is the son of former MLB manager Bill Rigney of the California Angels; that a tribute to them was that so many enjoy his music even though they don’t really know the tunes.  The style is contagious and fun!  After a brief rain delay, they returned to play for some brave 200 or so attenders who stayed into the night.  Let’s hope for sunny skies this Friday for Brass Transit!

Kenny Rogers, Josh Turner, Hal Linden, Barbara Eden, The Temptations, Newsboys, Sinbad, and a host of 19 other performances make up our 2014-15 Niswonger season.  It is filled with original performers who deserve the big stage indoors during the colder months of the year.  If you haven’t checked out the new season just announced, I encourage you to log onto the website: NPACVW.ORG or stop by the information table at our Fountain Park concerts and take a brochure.  The full season catalog is on its way to 16,000 mailboxes all over the country within the next week.  If you are on our mailing list, check your mailbox for its arrival.  It will be filled with interesting tidbits of information on the new season.  Our current website also contains information about the artists.  And in August, we will launch our new website which will make it easy for you to watch video of nearly all the performers coming to the Niswonger beginning this fall.

Tickets to the Niswonger concerts are being released to members currently and beginning July 1 to Grand Series purchasers, followed by Select Series purchasers on July 8.  Any remaining tickets will go public approximately 90 days before each concert.

It is definitely an exciting time for the arts in Van Wert.  Many of you are enjoying the Friday night post-concert mixer at Wassenberg Art Center.  It is close to Fountain Park and provides a fun atmosphere to relax and talk about another great concert experience brought to you by The Van Wert County Foundation.


POSTED: 06/24/14 at 11:36 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I know we are not allowed to burn in the city of Van Wert, and especially not in one of our city parks.  This Friday, however, we have received a special ordinance waiver to allow Tom Rigney to light up Fountain Park with his electric fiddle playing.  Actually, Tom Rigney and Flambeau, his band, which consists of bass, drums, guitar and keyboard, will be lighting up the stage this Friday night beginning at 7 with their Cajun and Zydeco flavored music.

It’s actually a little difficult to classify their music.  In reading about them, you will discover the term American Roots Music, but since they hail from San Francisco, you also see San Francisco Roots Music thrown in as well as New Orleans style music.  Zydeco and Cajun are actually forms of music that originated from Creole speaking French people located in southwestern Louisiana.  The music has a blues, and rhythm and blues style characteristic to it.

Tom Rigney & Flambeau promo pic 6-2014

Tom Rigney and his band, Flambeau, will bring their unique musical style to Fountain Park this Friday. (photo submitted)

Flambeau, which by the way is French for “burning torch”, brings the talents of four additionally talented musicians to the stage. You may remember from a few years back that the keyboard player is an exception Boogie-Woogie style pianist.  So, expect to hear some Boogie-Woogie thrown into the concert, as well as Cajun, Zydeco, Rhythm & Blues and who knows what else?  Add to this the fiery fiddle playing of Tom Rigney and we’ll have quite a night in Fountain Park this Friday night.

Main Street Van Wert will be serving up the food in the park.  This organization is very important to our city of Van Wert.  There have been many good things happen to downtown Van Wert in the past few years and much of it is because of the Main Street program.  It is funded by the City of Van Wert and other government sources, but is also very dependent on private donations.  So, eat heartily this Friday night and support another good cause in Van Wert as well as enjoy some wonderful music we don’t get to hear around this neck of the woods very often.

The following weeks in Fountain Park will feature Brass Transit — a tremendous Chicago tribute band — and then we arrive at the Fourth of July already.  The Lima Pops Orchestra will help celebrate America and there will be some surprises in store for that concert.  You won’t want to miss it!

I hope you have had the opportunity to see our new season just announced at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. I feel we have a very talented and entertaining array of performers coming to the PAC, starting in the fall.  Check out the website: or drop by the box office for information.  The exciting full season brochure is just about ready to be mailed.  It will include all kinds of fun information you can share with your friends as you prepare for which tickets to buy for your entertainment palate this year.

From Kenny Rogers to Josh Turner and so much more, 26 concert and shows will be offered for your consideration.  I’m sure we will have more and more interest from far away, so check out the selling dates.  Members have first opportunity, followed by Grand Series and Select Series buyers.

I look forward to seeing you in Fountain Park this Friday night for another beautiful night of music, brought to you by The Van Wert County Foundation.


POSTED: 06/17/14 at 8:56 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

So many have been awaiting the announcement of who is coming to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio this year.  Well, your wait is about to end.  Today (Wednesday) at noon, we are unveiling the full season of performers and attractions.  Watch your news outlets tomorrow for the complete listing.

We already know six of the attractions, which include the Annie Moses Band and Hal Linden and Barbara Eden, as well as four other exciting and entertaining performances as part of the Community Concert Series. We now are going to announce 19 additional concert artists, bands, shows, and events that will have your head spinning.

It has taken nearly seven full months to finalize the upcoming season.  There are many challenges that face us when trying to put a full season together in a timely manner.  For many performances, routing is a major endeavor to comply with and sometimes overcome.  One of the major jobs an agency has to accomplish on behalf of their artists, is to put together a tour that makes geographic and, ultimately, financial sense.  You can imagine, I’m sure, that no one wants to perform in California and then jump to Ohio and then back to Colorado.  So, if they are traveling by bus, certain mileage requirements are in place.  Add to this the challenges each of us presenters have, working around other schedules and commitments, and you can see that it becomes a nightmare of a situation from time to time.

Sometimes, when dealing with big stars or up and coming stars, they want to wait and see if TV, movie or perhaps music award shows want them to appear.  One of the big stars we have coming this year was just on the morning TV circuit of talk shows.  Another recently sang the National Anthem at a Major League Ballpark.  Well, obviously they want to take these “gigs” because of the huge exposure they receive.

So, the bottom line is that after more than a half year, numerous committee meetings, hundreds if not thousands of phone calls and emails, works and re-works of a schedule, we are about to announce the season.  I believe we have some very surprising shows no one would have ever dreamed of witnessing in the Niswonger; and we have some big name artists everyone will know as well as some we feel will be very much enjoyed for the quality of performance experience they offer.  Kids will love a couple shows in particular and youth will find some concerts they will think are “pretty cool”, if that’s not an outdated term!

Broadway, dance, music, drama, invigorating speakers, and legendary artists will find out what Van Wert, Ohio, is all about as they visit the Niswonger this year.  If you are reading this Wednesday morning, I invite you to the First Federal Lecture Hall at noon today for the exciting news of our upcoming season. You will enjoy lunch and learn about the when and how you can start getting seats for the performances.  I look forward to seeing some of you and talking with you about the upcoming season, brought to you by our season sponsors, StateWide Ford and Van Wert Federal Savings Bank.

What a weekend we had this past week for the Peony and ArtRageous Festivals!  The opening of our Fountain Park Summer Music couldn’t have been better received.  After the winter we had, I guess we are due a beautiful start to the summer.  Next up in Fountain Park is an electric fiddle player who, with his band from San Francisco, will once again electrify the activity pavilion stage (as I was told to properly call it) with their fiery renditions of New Orleans style music.  Tom Rigney and Flambeau will be in the park on June 20.  This Friday night, we take the night off because of the WBL/NWC-MAC All-Star football game in Eggerss Stadium.

I will look forward to seeing you at the Niswonger today or in the park in a couple weeks as we resume our summer music fun in Fountain Park!


POSTED: 06/11/14 at 12:00 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

With the beginning of June, you need to mark your calendars for two of the biggest happenings for music in Van Wert.  First of all, we have finally arrived — concerts in Fountain Park.  This Friday night at 7 p.m., the first concert of our summer season will take place, compliments of The Van Wert County Foundation, in cooperation with the Van Wert City Parks & Recreation.  It just happens to coincide (quite by intention) with the Peony and ArtRageous Festivals.

What says summer more than the music of the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons?  Of course, there is much, much more music than this, but it will be provided by the most popular beach party band from California: Papa Doo Run Run.  Four years ago, PDRR made their first appearance in Van Wert and won the hearts of music lovers from all over who attended. To kick off our summer of concerts in Fountain Park, I just knew it was time to bring them back.

Of course, with the festivals going on this weekend, there will be a lot of fun activities and food to go with the music of Papa Doo Run Run.  West Main Street will play host to a car show, and there will be craft and art shows to accompany food vendors surrounding the park.  And then, don’t forget about the Peony Festival Grand Parade at 5 on Saturday night.  Get your lawn chairs ready though, for the big 7 p.m. Friday concert.  If we have the kind of weather we have been enjoying, we are in for an exciting and fun night in Fountain Park.

The following week, we take Friday night off as there will be an all-star football game in Eggerss Stadium.  Then we return on June 20 with the saucy Cajun sounds of Tom Rigney and Flambeau.

Now, for the second big date in June!  I know many of you have been waiting to find out who we have coming to the Niswonger PAC.  We have announced the Community Concert Series, but on June 11 we will unveil all the other concerts, shows and attractions.  The act of getting artists to confirm dates in a timely manner is always a challenge, but we are now ready to announce.

Variety is one thing so many of you have complimented the Niswonger on offering.  This fall will begin a whole new season of new artists, many you will instantly recognize and others you should recognize.  But once again, variety will provide someone for everyone.

Wednesday, June 11, at noon in the First Federal Lecture Hall, season sponsors- Statewide Ford and Van Wert Federal will proudly announce the new season.  We invite any who are interested, to join us in the Lecture Hall for a lite lunch provided by Willow Bend, accompanied by the announcement and words about the new season.  Media, sponsors, and underwriters and friends will gather to help kick off the season announcement and provide information about when tickets will go on sale.

So, don’t miss these two big dates coming real soon.  Even when you think things are slowing down, we are working hard to keep music in Van Wert alive and well!  You can relax and we’ll provide the music.


POSTED: 06/03/14 at 9:10 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Some say it must be nice to slow down a bit now that Niswonger concerts are done for the season. I understand what they are saying, but the reality is that we are in full throttle right now with planning, marketing, and implementing concerts.

What may be grabbing everyone’s attention at the moment is the beginning of the Fountain Park summer concerts. We just went through a gorgeous Memorial Day weekend that is often viewed as the window to the summer. With that, many of us start thinking about those fun Friday evenings in Fountain Park, compliments of The Van Wert County Foundation.  Completely understood!

We certainly look forward to June 6 with Papa Doo Run Run and then June 20 with Tom Rigney and Flambeau, where we experience that exciting electric fiddlin’ of Cajun, Zydeco and New Orleans Blues style music. By the way, I will list the entire summer series again at the conclusion of this column for those who haven’t seen it.

At the same time, we have released the 2014-15 Community Concert Series at the Niswonger. This by far is the best “deal” on concerts at the Niswonger.  Six concerts are offered in this series for as low as $60.  If you haven’t seen this package of concerts, I invite you to check it out at NPACVW.ORG. You can find out in-depth information of the performers.

This year’s Community Concert Series features the renowned Annie Moses Band, as well as legendary folk artist Peter Yarrow.  That’s followed with a lively musical ensemble from, of all places, Cuba!  Two of TV’s all-time legends, Barbara Eden and Hal Linden, are featured in a stage production called Love Letters, and then concert pianist, Leon Bates performs before we finish with the Celtic dance and music spectacular, The StepCrew.

This is quite a package of entertainment for as little as $60!  It’s all on sale right now through the Niswonger box office.  The sooner you reserve your seats, the better your choices!

It will be another couple weeks before we announce the rest of the Niswonger’s 2014-15 season. I know this is later than we would have liked, but all I can say is that, if it is taking this long to get the season confirmed, there must be some huge attractions we are waiting on!  Keep your eyes and ears open for the announcement.

Here is the entire Fountain Park Summer Music Series line-up:

June 6              Papa Doo Run Run

June 20            Tom Rigney and Flambeau

June 27            Brass Transit (Chicago Tribute)

July 4               Lima Symphony Pops Star Spangled Spectacular

July 11             Motown Sounds of TOUCH

July 18             Van Wert Area Community Concert Band

July 25             Scarborough Fair: The Guthrie Brothers (Simon & Garfunkel Tribute)

August 1          Never Stop Believin’ (Journey Tribute)

August 15        Van Wert Area Community Concert Band

Remember!  All concerts begin at 7 p.m.


POSTED: 05/27/14 at 11:31 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert