Introducing a Levitt superfan


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Since opening in June, thousands of people have taken time to attend concerts at the Levitt at the Falls venue, and the free live entertainment attracts people of all ages with their own stories to tell.

When there’s a concert at Levitt at the Falls, you’ll find Conrado Ruiz here.

“The price is right, it’s free, the entertainment is fantastic, you can’t put a price on it,” Ruiz said.

“I’d say he’s one of our superfans,” said Rose Ann Hofland, director of community engagement and communications with Levitt at the Falls.

Ruiz has a diverse musical palate.

“I listened to a lot of country, that was all there was, out in the country, working with cows and horses and things of that nature,” Ruiz said. “And so I wore cowboy hats and boots and learned how to ride and how to, mostly how to fall off and get back on quickly. But pretty much everything, I even get into gospel, classical. You name it, I like it.”

People of different backgrounds, ages and walks of life attend these concerts. Everyone’s unique and Ruiz is no exception. One aspect of his reality is that he is homeless. But he says he doesn’t feel out of place at the Levitt.

“Actually, I do not,” Ruiz said. “I don’t mingle too much with the people, but they let me be, I let them be. I’m here to listen to the music, they’re here to have a good time, I’m here to have my own good time, and I feel quite at home.”

Ruiz’s present is in Sioux Falls, but his past is in El Paso, Texas, where he’s from.

“After umpteen years of being a medic in El Paso, Texas and umpteen years of being a medic fire captain in New Mexico, things got to me a little bit and nightmares and things of that nature,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz says he deals with post-traumatic stress.

“We’re here for one thing that unites everybody
— that’s the music.”

Canrado Ruiz.

“Some days are better than others, I can, I’m fully functional, but some days I can’t even sleep because I have images of like it was just yesterday,” Ruiz said.

Often recently, he’s at the Levitt. The music here washes over him, like it can for everyone.

“Makes me feel human again, makes me feel wanted, makes me feel like a part of a community, not a part that we wish to hide and keep a blind eye to … but a part of a community that, who cares who comes here,” Ruiz said. “We’re here for one thing that unites everybody — that’s the music.”

“I absolutely believe that music is that common denominator- it’s the thing that ties everybody together,” said Nancy Halverson, executive director of Levitt at the Falls. “I always say our hearts beat with music, and so when we come to a place, and we can share that rhythm of life together, it really does tie us together.”

“No matter what economic strata you come from or background, you can come here, get to know some friends and neighbors,” Hofland said.

Of course, it’s not just about the music when you’re enjoying it live.

“The people are fantastic, the crowd is great, but the workers make the event,” Ruiz said.

And if the free music continues, he says he’ll be here.

“They know I’m a staple here … I’ll be here,” Ruiz said.

A live music scene for anyone- especially a superfan.

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