No idea why it is a success story


By Marilyn Delk


About two decades ago, Darke County Center for the Arts’ officials launched an event that they hoped would raise awareness of the organization and its offerings as well as raise a little money to help finance operations for the non-profit. The idea was to throw a party where good music was played, food and drink were served, and a good time was had by all. Although Montage owner Aaron Cox was all in on the idea, some opposition was heard from a few patrons who advised that DCCA should not be engaging in such social gatherings, and concentrate on presenting the arts, not parties.

Fortunately, that advice was not followed, and now, about 20 years later, “A Taste of Wine and Jazz” is still going strong, fulfilling its original goals—and much more. Rather than begging for sponsors, “Taste” has local businesses and individuals asking to “please, please let us be among those contributing to the continuation of this fun-filled event.” As proof of its, continuing success, please note that if you haven’t already reserved your tickets to “Wine and Jazz,” you might be too late; even though no news releases have yet gone out, by the end of December 2023, only a few openings remained for participating in the fun.

How did this happen? Why is “A Taste of Wine and Jazz” such a hot ticket each and every year? Even though the wines made available for tasting may be interesting and enjoyable, wine-lovers are not the only attendees. (Other beverages are available, and widely consumed.) The lavish array of luscious and attractive appetizers created by Aaron and Michele Cox is certainly a positive factor, but good food is available at Montage on a daily basis, so that does not explain the enthusiasm for this annual event.

Several excellent artists have performed during the years, and the great music is appreciated by attendees. For the past few years and once again in 2024, Deron Bell and his band will provide the music; the ensemble performs with invigorating verve and enthusiasm, engendering a sense of joy that permeates the proceedings. Deron Bell, the Music Director for award-winning DCDC (Dayton Contemporary Dance Company) and a highly regarded keyboardist, heads an amazing band that has shared the stage with many national recording artists. But let’s be honest—our community is not a hotbed for jazz fans. In fact, the majority of local citizens insist that they don’t like jazz, even though they may warmly embrace popular artists who perform jazz classics that thrill and entertain fans who don’t realize they are listening to music than can be classified as jazz. So the opportunity to hear jazz is not the motivating force for purchase of “A Taste of Wine and Jazz” tickets.

For the past several years, the event has been held about three weeks into the New Year, inspiring the thought that perhaps “Wine and Jazz” happens at an opportune moment just long enough after the holiday season for people to have recovered from all the holiday festivities and be eager to go out and have a good time. But the initial success occurred at different times throughout the calendar year, so recovering from winter doldrums cannot explain the longevity of popularity among people representing so many disparate demographics.

So, the bottom line is—I have no idea why “A Taste of Wine and Jazz” remains such a hot ticket, attracting people of all ages from far and wide as well as locally. But I know that I don’t want to miss it—that it will be fun, I will see lots of people I know (and lots that I don’t) having a good time, enjoying camaraderie, excellent food, and good music and at the same time, contributing to the continuing success of an organization committed to presenting and promoting the arts, and encouraging cultural enrichment in our community. Tickets for “A Taste of Wine and Jazz” are $50, and if any remain, can be reserved by contacting DCCA at 937-547-0908 or at

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