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Mark Preston Returns to the Ohio State Fair

Over the years the Bob Braun Show was one of the constants during the Ohio State Fair. People would come from the tri state area just to see Bob Braun and his co-hosts perform, on a daily basis, with celebrity guests coming into Columbus for the show.

Mark Preston Returns to the Ohio State Fair
Columbus, OH, June 03, 2013 --( The Bob Braun Show was a variety show that showcased the talent of the host and co-hosts each day with singing, skits and dancing. Mark Preston was one of those co-hosts that were at the Ohio State Fair performing for all the fans and fair goers. This year Mark Preston is coming back to the Ohio State Fair on August 3 to do a show once again.

It has been more than a few years ago since the Bob Braun Show, later called Braun and Company, has been at the Ohio State Fair. Everyone in attendance loved the show and enjoyed the personal touches everyone on the show gave to the audience every day. The entertainers would walk up into the audience to sing and audience members were brought on stage for different parts of the show. The Bob Braun Show was a stepping stone for Indiana native Mark Preston. The late country legend Tennessee Ernie Ford was instrumental in introducing Mark to the producers of the Braun Show. Phyllis Diller met him on the show and later asked him to open for her on the road. The two remained close friends till her recent passing. One of Mark’s fondest memories is singing Happy Birthday to her on her 94th birthday. “When she got on the phone, she simply said “Sing To Me” recalled Preston. “She was a wonderful lady, and a tremendous teacher.” When The Lettermen appeared on the Braun Show, they heard Mark sing and immediately asked him to be a member of the group. Mark’s schedule didn’t allow it at the time, but a few years later, Tony Butala asked him again, and this time, Mark said yes. He remained a member of the group for over 10 years.

“I remember being at the Ohio State Fair and singing to huge audiences,” Mark Preston said.

“It was outside in the old grandstand and we would battle both the August heat and Mother Nature at some of the shows,” Preston said smiling.

“Our days started pretty early. There was a production trailer that served as our offices on the left side of the grandstand and either on or near the track,” Kit Carson, former producer of The Bob Braun Show said. Now the producer of “People’s Court” Carson found out quickly what it took to put together the show at the Ohio State Fair.

“The band for the show was set up on a flatbed trailer with a canvas awning that covered three sides. The audio equipment was in a rental truck that pulled up at the end of the band trailer, this is where the micro phones were controlled,” Carson said. "The commercial cameras were set up in the very top of the grandstand and overlooked the slab and main stage on the other side of the track. We had a large rug with the BBS on it that we rolled out over the concrete slab; this was used for the main production area of the show."

When asked about doing the live remotes Mark said, “It wasn’t hard for me or the other singers, but for the tech crews it was a real challenge.”

“When we finished with the show,” Carson said, “we would take everything down, the audio truck would drive away and a tractor would pull the band trailer away. The next day we would set up and start all over again. After the show we all went on to different assignments at the fair for WLWT.”

Doing the show was a team effort. Everyone worked hard to make the Bob Braun Show the success it was. “Working together as much as we did,” Kit Carson said, “we ‘got’ each other time to time. There were a lot of times when we would try to crack each other up… especially Rob and Mark. You can see this in some of the videos when they start to laugh as they are singing.”

“They tried and most of the times we could make it through. But, at times, you just got the giggles and off we’d go,” Mark said. “Great memories.”

The audiences saw this connection and they loved the stars of the Bob Braun Show. “They were the best fans a person could ever ask for. I loved them,” Preston said about the Bob Braun Show fans.

“We are just so excited here at the Martin Janis Senior Center Auditorium to have Mark Preston here doing a show,” Doreen Gosha, Manager of the Martin Janis Senior Center Auditorium said. “It is bringing back a little bit of the past from the old grand stand shows as well as the present and where Mark is today.”

Working on a live show prepared Mark for the rest of his career and working on stage most every night. Several years ago Preston decided to go on his own, a solo career, and break away from The Lettermen. He wanted to do his own shows and direct his career in another direction.

“That’s when I came in to the picture,” Pam Egbert, owner of ProDuctions, Wapakoneta, said. “I had been doing marketing and public relations work for a while, and when I met Mark I was working at a local Performing Arts Center. I was looking at The Lettermen and ran into Mark. We hit it off and I have been working with him ever since. He is the greatest to work with.”

Bringing him to the Ohio State Fair just seemed to be the right thing to do at this point in his career. He has been traveling all over the world the last few years and he has been doing shows all over the United States in different venues. "His fans from the tri state area kept asking when we were bringing him to this area so the Ohio State Fair seemed so perfect," Egbert said.

“It just happened that we had an opening for a big act at the Ohio State Fair,” Jim Bruce, Co-owner of Access Entertainment Group, said. “We have been working with Mark and to bring him back to Columbus, back home as some have said, seemed to be a great fit for the state fair.”

Access Entertainment Group has been working with the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department for the past two years in setting up entertainment during the Ohio State Fair. “In the past we have brought in the smaller bands and entertainers for the 'on grounds' entertainment. This year we decided to bring in someone the caliber of Mark Preston to do a bigger show at the Martin Janis Senior Center Auditorium.

“I am so excited we get to do this show,” Egbert said. “I have seen Mark on stage and his show is spectacular. He has been performing with The Lettermen for the past ten years and he also performed in Las Vegas so the show is loaded with great songs and Mark’s personality is all over the stage.”

Egbert added, “Mark loves his audience and he loves to talk to them and joke with them. Mark is known to tell a story between songs, he loves to connect with his fans. His shows are just that 'a show.' There is a reason his fans love him, he gives them a great show.”

When asked what he was looking forward to when coming back to the Ohio State Fair Mark’s answer was simple, “Singing again for the good people in the area. Having performed at the Ohio State Fair twice and with the Columbus Symphony several times, at the Ohio Theater…it’s always a great time for me. I love singing for the people of Columbus and the surrounding area.”

In order to make the show even better Access Entertainment Group is bringing in a group from West Central Ohio called WiFive. Band members include Fred Wells, lead singer, from Port Jefferson; Kristin Vaubel, keys and vocals, from Botkins; Dave Maurer, percussion and vocals, from Botkins: David Clark , bass and vocals, from Troy and Keith Freisthler, guitar and vocals, from Sidney. WiFive performs everything from classic rock, current pop and country.

“We are excited to have WiFive at the Ohio State Fair with us this year. Their show will begin at 5:00 p.m.,” Bruce said. “I think they will be a great compliment for the opening show at the Martin Janis Senior Center Auditorium. They are performing on the patio in front of the center and are a free show. I have seen them on stage and they have some great vocals and are one of the top bands I have seen recently.”

Bruce added that the entire evening of shows is well put together and the combination of WiFive and Mark Preston will be a great evening of fun at the Ohio State Fair.

“We have made the tickets easy to purchase this year,” Annette Clark, VP of Access Entertainment Group said. “Everything can be done online. With Mark’s following we wanted to make sure all fans could get tickets, not just the local residents.”

Mark Preston will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. and the doors to the Martin Janis Senior Center Auditorium will open at 7:00 p.m. All tickets will be sold until show time. “We will announce on Facebook, on Mark’s website and on the eventbrite site if the tickets sell out before the show,” Clark said. Tickets to the show are for $17 and can be purchased at not counting fair admission.
Contact Information
Access Entertainment Group
James Bruce

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