Annual Southern Gospel Concert March 25
By Ray Balogh
MILFORD — Milford dairy farmer Phil Gingerich has bestowed the community with an annual Southern gospel concert for 32 years and counting.
But that counting may soon come to an end.
“I may go one more year,” said the 65-year-old owner of Gingerich Dairy, who wants to devote more time to family and farmwork.
“I will really miss doing the concert. It’s the work that has to be done before the concert that I won’t miss.”
This year’s concert will feature gospel groups Legacy Five and Triumphant Quartet, and will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 25, at the Sammlung Platz event center, 758 N. Tomahawk Trail, Nappanee.
Doors open at 1 p.m., with all seats general admission.
The first concert launched in humble fashion in 1991 “with just some local groups at the Milford Middle School gym,” said Gingerich. “Around 200 people came to that free concert.
“Dave Matz was the vice principal at the school, so when I came in to pay for the gym use, he said, ‘Why don’t you get the Cathedral Quartet in?’ So I got up the nerve to call them and they actually said yes and that started the Southern gospel series in 1992.”
The first Cathedral Quartet concert drew 800 attendees, and the phenomenon steadily grew in popularity.
“After the fourth year, we had 1,700 people at the middle school gym and it was standing room only and they told me we could not have that many people in the gym again,” Gingerich recalled.
“The next year we went to the Wawasee High School gym. In 1999, the year the quartet retired, we had 2,500 people in the gym to see their last concert in Syracuse.
“After the Cathedrals retired, we started with Legacy Five and have had them every year since. About half of those years we had another group with them.”
Some years Gingerich has arranged three concerts, featuring groups such as Gold City, Anthony Burger, The Martins, Common Bond, Greater Vision, Freedom Singers, Ernie Hasse, Ivan Parker, Jim and Melissa Brady, Garment of Praise, Brian Free and this year’s co-headliner, Triumphant Quartet.
This is the third year Sammlung Platz has served as the event’s venue.
Gingerich credits the performers’ local and regional fans for keeping his motivational fire lit. “Every year people thank me and encourage me to keep it going.”
He noted the highlight in his annual labor of love as “having groups come to our house for lunch and sharing time with our children and milking cows.”
It isn’t just about the music or the entertainment. Gingerich finds gratification in the deeper reaches of the performances.
“When someone is hurting and a certain song that was sung had a message in it they needed for that moment, that’s exciting to hear.”
Tickets are $25/person, with children 10 and under admitted free.
Tickets may be purchased by calling Gingerich at (574) 518-0281 or visiting itickets.com.
For more information on the performers, visit legacyfive.com or triumphantquartet.com.