There are observations I have made over the years at the many live concerts I have been a part of presenting at the Niswonger, Fountain Park, and numerous other venues. What I enjoy the most is watching the reactions of audience members. The gratification I have received over the years is seeing the amount of pleasure expressed by so many. Oftentimes, it is nothing verbally expressed to me, just my observations.

I can’t tell you how many times I have stood by the Fountain Park stage and nearly been moved to tears as I look out among the audience, standing, clapping, dancing and moving to the music. Some of these people have very little while other have so much. But beyond that, they are all moved by the fun they are experiencing at that moment through the music. There is nothing that I have seen brings a community together than the enjoyment of music. What a blessing it has been to have been a part of making this happen!

This past Saturday night, country music star, Travis Tritt gave a wonderful acoustic concert to another sold-out Niswonger house. I believe most everyone enjoyed the music, the stories, and the passion Travis Tritt brought to our stage. Many were big-time Travis Tritt fans while others attended because it was just another concert at the Niswonger.

What caught my attention most Saturday night wasn’t the loud, enthusiastic Travis Tritt fan or even the country music fan who loves to get into the music, but rather, it was an elderly gentleman sitting across the aisle from me. He sat stoically in his seat while wearing a jacket and ball cap that looked like he had owned for many years. He never applauded after a song was finished, never broke a smile, or grinned. It might be easy to think he had been put up to attending the concert by a wife who told him he’d enjoy it- perhaps a reluctant attendee. But once I took a longer gander, I could see his big toe tapping inside his worn shoe. The music was reaching his sole, or should I say soul! This could be the most reaction he has ever given to music. His way of expressing a good time was a thunderous, if barely visible toe tap inside his shoe. I think inside his soul, he was smiling to the music.

This is the kind of experience that makes what I have been doing for a lifetime so rewarding. It’s not just the raucous audience member that shows their pleasure on their sleeve, but many times, the older, gentler, toe-tapper you would hardly notice. I don’t know if this gentleman emptied his spare change purse to muster up enough money for his ticket or if he was a rich man. One thing I do know is that music made this gentleman richer that night!

Live music has the ability to move people like none other. When my tenure as Performing Arts Coordinator and Niswonger Executive Director is up, I can take great pleasure in knowing we made a difference in people’s lives, especially the fine citizens of the Van Wert community.

I will continue making music as a trumpet player in the Lima Symphony and leading a choir of dedicated servants in the First United Methodist Chancel Choir. Who knows where the Lord may lead me, but I know I am in good hands.

The good things we have created and nurtured over the years will continue at Fountain Park and the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. I will look forward to seeing people continue to be fed musically. I hope you will continue to enjoy and support the arts in Van Wert as we have a very special reputation that has been developed in Northwest Ohio.

That being said, The Van Wert County Foundation office is accepting names of non-profit organizations who would like to be considered to serve food at one of the Fountain Park Summer Music Series concerts this year. Call 419-238-1743 or email me at paulhoverman@gmail.com with the name of your organization, address, contact person, phone number and email address. Submissions will be accepted throughout the month of March.

Watch the media for a news release in the very near future of the entire 2019 Fountain Park Summer Music Series. Lots of fun, music and good times are in store this summer in Fountain Park.

FINE