Award-winning group The Booth Brothers (pictured) is just one of the acts performing at the Southern Gospel Expo hosted by Trinity Friends Church April 4-7. (Photo submitted)
BY ED GEBERT
Times Bulletin Editor
VAN WERT - The harmonies and heartfelt lyrics of the Southern Gospel Expo are returning April 4-7 at Trinity Friends Church in Van Wert. Host group Trinity is welcoming two dozen groups and performers to share the stage in this free four-day celebration of southern gospel music. The Trinity Friends Youth Group will provide a concession stand during the event.
This will be the twelfth year for the expo which begin next Thursday evening with a "homecoming-style" concert.
"All the groups will be seated on the stage and participating in group songs and popping up and doing songs," explained Mark Hartman, Trinity's sound man and Trinity Friends Church's director of ministries."We'll also be doing 'scrap iron quartets'," added Trinity's Gary Adams. "You put four parts in a hat. The people cannot sing with their own group. And draw one out and that's the part you have to sing. We'll do it beforehand, that way you have time to pick a song out."
Each year the list of performers changes, but many are frequent guests at the expo. Adams indicated that he thought the only other performers besides Trinity to appear at all past expos is saxophonist Tom Kennerk. Most are veterans of several expos, both in Van Wert and elsewhere. Performers like Jerry Garcia, The Jubilees, Master's Own, and John Darin Rowsey are familiar names for expo attenders. Added to that this year are groups like the Guardians, Eternity's Crossing, Dayspring, the Mercy River Quartet, and the Social Security Boys who will provide new sounds for the show.
Capping off the show Sunday evening is a special concert featuring Trinity followed by the award-winning group, The Booth Brothers. The group has made multiple appearances at the Southern Gospel Expo over the past years, attracting fans from across the Midwest. That show begins Sunday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m. with doors opening two hours prior to the show.
Friday and Saturday nights are big nights at the expo with performances beginning each night at 5 p.m. are running more than six hours. Hartman called the evening a challenge.
"This is one of the harder things that you'll ever do as a sound guy," he shared. "It's a different group every 15 minutes for five or six hours. That's pretty demanding, but we've got a great team that works on the sound."
The groups won't be silent on Sunday either. Fourteen of the performers and groups will be performing at area churches on Sunday morning, April 7. The churches help support their adopted groups, which helps defray the cost of the travel and other expenses.
The event provides a lot of fun and fellowship for not only those in the audience, but also the singers and group members. Special meals and accommodations are also on the weekend schedule for the musical guests.