Free Christmas Concert returns for 24th year

By Nikki Blankenship -

It is once again time for one of the community’s most celebrated Christmas events. Dr. James Spinnati will be giving to the community once again with the 24th Annual Christmas Gift to Portsmouth to try to continue the ‘Tis the season for giving’ moniker, starting at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 27 at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts on the campus of Shawnee State University, 940 Second Street in Portsmouth.

The event is a free Christmas concert that is open to the public. Each year, Spinnati hosts the event as a way to give back to the area.

“I want to give back to the community. I want to make a difference,” he stated. “This area’s down. We need a pick me up.”

Spinnati first came to the area in the early 90s and says he has been trying to make a difference here ever since. The concert is only one way that he does so. In fact, his bible college, the Sonshine School of Evangelism, once held a free car wash a refused to accept donations. The Christmas concert is held in similar fashion.

“We don’t want your money,” he stated.

He added that it is sad that many church groups are looking for money rather than giving back. When everyone else is out for themselves, Spinnati is about something different.

“We’re about giving them (attendees) a free concert, telling them we love them and not having a hand in their pocket,” Spinnati stated.

Danny Bentley will again return as the Master of Ceremonies. He has been the Master of Ceremonies since the start of the event. In past years, musical entertainment has featured such talented artists as Art and Jeff Bush, Tracy Tooley and Steve Foster.

In addition to quality musical performances, each year the show also highlights community heroes with recognition for their service. In the past, the awards have always gone to two people or organizations that have made positive contributions to the area. This tradition will also continue for the 24th concert when Spinnati will recognize the contributions of Bill and Mary Martha Questell and the Portsmouth Rotary.

As with previous years, the concert is free and open to all. There will be no altar calls or collections.

“If they preach, they’re out,” Spinnati stated. “We lock the deacons up for the night.”

Spinnati said that the concert cost him several thousand dollars, much of which he covers out-of-pocket. Thus, sponsors are greatly appreciated. Tickets are available through event sponsors, which is also where they can be picked up. Ticket locations include the McKinley Box Office, WNXT 99.3 FM, Ace Hardware, Portsmouth and Wheelersburg Desco Federal Credit Union, Praises Book Store, Larry Moore Trophies and Sports, Tim Hortons, Carey’s Run Church of Christ, Quincy Church of Christ, and DawgByte Productions and DawgByte Computer Services in Proctorville. Additional sponsors include The Scioto Voice, Southern Ohio Medical Center, South Shore Quilt Festival and Portsmouth Holiday Inn.

For more information, call (740) 354-3665, (740) 351-3600, or (740) 357-0069 or visit

By Nikki Blankenship

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.