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Gospel sounds resonate at Hagerstown City Park bandshell

July 03, 2013|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com

For more than 30 years, local residents have been able to enjoy a tradition of live gospel music set in the background of the summer season.

Every year, Jenny Wilt said she and her husband, Mike, contact the Washington County Arts Council and the city of Hagerstown’s Parks and Recreation Department to get the ball rolling for the Gospel in the Park concert series at the Peter Buys Band Shell at City Park.

The Wilts fill out a contract for the upcoming year, then the couple starts lining up the entertainment.

This year’s series — which features shows on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. — has been under way since June 5, and a total of 13 groups were scheduled this summer.

On Wednesday night, about 100 people turned out at the band shell to hear the Touchdown Sunset Praise Worship Band from Brownsville Church of the Brethren.

Spectators caught images of the band on their smartphones, while others waved their arms to the rhythm of the band that included singers and players on bass, guitar, drums and keyboard.

Jenny Wilt said and her husband like coordinating the series because it is a way to spread the gospel outside of a church. Not only does the series have a loyal following, but Wilt said people in the park will wander past and stop, not knowing that the series existed.

Wilt said a man ran the series for about 29 years before he had to stop due to health reasons. Wilt and her husband then picked up the event and have been coordinating it for about eight years.

Ronnie Cline of Williamsport and his friend, Judy Burton of Big Pool, sat behind the main seating area in fold-out chairs Wednesday night.

Cline said he caught some of the series last year and likes the caliber of the groups.

“We’ve been here every week so far,” Cline said of this year’s series. “This is nice for people through the summertime.”

“They’re very touching,” Hagerstown resident Ron Cramer said of the performances. Cramer said he and his wife, Linda, have been enjoying the series for about four years.

Gospel in the Park schedule

The following is the schedule for the remainder of the Gospel in the Park series:

  • July 10 — Guilford Station
  • July 17 — Randy Simpson
  • July 24 — Souled Out
  • July 31 — Sound Doctrine
  • Aug. 7 — The Heavners
  • Aug. 14 — Forgiven
  • Aug. 21 — Masters Four
  • Aug. 28 — Gloryland Ramblers

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