The Ottumwa Courier

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March 28, 2012

Giddy up … mow, mow ... The Oak Ridge Boys rock Bridge View Center

Et Cetera

OTTUMWA — ““The Boys are Back,” sang The Oak Ridge Boys to a rollicking crowd at Bridge View Center.

Saturday night’s show packed the parking lot, the side streets and entrance to The Beach Ottumwa.

A few came dressed in western wear, and I saw a lot of “oldsters” like me milling around the entrance way and spilling out on the plaza for a scenic view of the Des Moines River and our famous blue bridge.

Some partook of refreshments; others just visited and enjoyed seeing the hundreds of concert-goers coming in for the show.

It started a bit late, but once Bridge View Center Executive Director Larry Gawronski prepped the crowd and announced the stars, it was a full hour of non-stop vocals from the four talented guys.

“We haven’t been around for years,” said tenor Joe Bonsall. “We’ve been around for decades.”

That was a number of songs into the concert, which began with a rhythmic thump of drums and the “Boys” singing “The Boys are Back.” Bonsall had to laugh since Saturday night was the first time the Boys had played in Ottumwa. No strangers to Iowa, they have performed at the state fair and also Dubuque.

Each number brought audience members fond memories, with many mouthing the words, singing along or just clapping hands to the beat of the music from guitars to a violin, keyboard and, of course, the drums.

Noticeable on the packed floor were “youngsters” (under 50) enjoying the performance as much as their parents or grandparents. The Boys tried to include the crowds in the bleacher seats, too.

Gawronski announced another big name coming to Bridge View Center. Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers will perform in June, and tickets are on sale.

Bonsall urged fans to twitter their show at Bridge View Center. The stars, like BVC supporters, want many, many star acts such as the Boys to entertain in Ottumwa.

Our new convention center continues to amaze and delight southeast Iowans with its potpourri of offerings. Recapping the last eight months, Ottumwans could enjoy Ottumwa Community Players and Ottumwa Community Children’s Theater productions such as “Annie” and “Annie Get Your Gun” and the upcoming “Sleeping Beauty.”

The sounds of symphony music fill the theater often, along with special tributes ranging from comedy to Elvis to Irish entertainers and next month’s Jim McDonough and his orchestra show. Riders in the Sky perform next week.

Bridge View is home to many meetings, from civic groups to union gatherings, state offerings, auctions, weekly church services, blood drives, training classes, job fairs, roller derby, business parties, the breakfast buffets held on the first Fridays of the month, fundraisers, political events, a coin club show, the gun and knife show, veterans’ day concert, video games events, the Fireman’s Ball, civil service tests, a chili cook-off, track and field practice, a bridal show and much more.

January brought the annual Partners in Progress dinner by the Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce, along with the annual Cornbelt Cow/Calf Conference and the popular Wapello County Trails Eagle Walk. Ottumwa’s League of Women Voters invite area candidates to meet the public during legislative sessions.

The recent cowboy rodeo finals and the monster truck show drew many fans.

This month started with the popular Home and Garden Show (Home Expo), followed by the annual Distinguished Young Woman of Iowa program.

Dance recitals are held and many parties for showers, weddings and anniversaries.

The event center accommodates several programs at the same time. The O-Talent Show also was going on Saturday night in the theater.

Coming up on the schedule is the Noon Lions Convention, dance recitals, Iowa Workforce Development Job Fair, the high school prom, The Gatlin Brothers and the annual 4-H Expo.

You can find schedules of events at BVC, online and at many venues. A new treat coming in October is a special magic show in the theater. That should be great fun.

The above is only a partial list of everything going on at our Bridge View Center. Some events are free, others at a minimal cost. For The Oak Ridge Boys, ticket prices were higher, but still within budget and comparable to the music shows in Branson, Mo. In fact, the show took me back to all the theater shows I used to see in Branson. And while Richard Sterban has a great bass voice, I must say there was a bass singer with the Branson Brothers who also was excellent.

It was a great night. And I only had to cross the river to attend the show. What a deal!

Boys, I hope you return.

Judy Krieger is a retired Courier editor.

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