Patrick and Barb VanWert
Patrick and Barb VanWert
We meet new guests at every concert. This past Sunday, the Blue Man Group offered up yet another opportunity to meet visitors from near and far as they ventured upon Northwest Ohio’s Music City for entertainment. With the Cavalier Steel Drum band playing in the background and a lobby party sponsored by Gary Taylor in full swing, I happened upon a kind couple who had a unique story to tell. They were the VanWerts and their tale, in their own words, goes like this.

Yes, we are the VanWerts. My name is Patrick and my wife is Barb. We reside in Columbus, Ohio. We met Tafi Stober this past Sunday evening just prior to the Blue Man Group performance. She asked if I’d write a little story about Mr. and Mrs. VanWert.

We were married in Oct. 23, 2004, in the reading room of the Brumback Library. Yes, the VanWerts were married in Van Wert. I am originally from Midland, Michigan, and Barb is a military child who spent most of her life in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She moved to Columbus in 1999. We met at her parent’s home in Surprise, Arizona, in 2000 as I happened to be their neighbor. (Yes, I’ve known my in-laws longer than I’ve known my wife.) I proposed in 2003 and moved to Columbus the following year.

In May of that year, we joked about getting married in Van Wert but we laughed it off. In June we discussed again where we would get married and did not have a location with sentimental meaning. I called the Van Wert Chamber of Commerce and inquired about places to get married in this beautiful little town. The nice lady said, “Let me make some phone calls and I’ll call you back”. About 15 minutes later I get a phone call from Don Farmer. He said “Hello Mr. VanWert. I’m Mayor Don Farmer from Van Wert. I heard you and your fiancé are looking for a place to get married here.”

He continued, “ I’ve never officiated a wedding and as the mayor, I am legally able to perform wedding ceremonies. I would be honored if you’d allow me to be the person who will marry the VanWerts in Van Wert.”

It was a done deal. We made two trips to Van Wert over the next couple of months. We met Thad Davis, a Van Wert resident, who would cater our little reception. I did a mock proposal on a Friday night at Fountain Park (during the Concert in the Park) in front of about 1,500 people. Mayor Farmer invited the whole city to the big event in October.

On Oct. 23, 2004, Barb’s parents flew in from Arizona. Her best friend flew in from Colorado Springs. Barb’s two sisters and their families drove up from Columbus. My parents and one of my brothers with his family drove down from Michigan. Barb went to Total Reflection Day Spa to get all fancy. I went golfing with Mayor Farmer and his sons.

We were supposed to get married at 5 p.m. in Fountain Park. Mother Nature had other plans for us so Mayor Farmer called the library and asked if we could use the reading room for an hour. They obliged graciously. We had an intimate little ceremony with family and three local couples. Our private reception was in the banquet room of the old Holiday Inn on Washington Street. And the rest is history. We love Van Wert. We love your city. We love your people. Van Wert is our little home away from home. Thank you for sharing your beautiful little city with us. We are humbled. - Pat and Barb VanWert

So if you ever wonder if this hospitable city of 10,531 ever makes impact, here is proof. We were honored to entertain our new friends and look forward to welcoming them once again to the city that bears their name. To provide a place to create entertaining memories is the name of our game.