Texas Folklife is pleased to announce the names of the finalists for this year’s Big Squeeze Accordion Contest. There are twelve finalists, seven are from the Rio Grande Valley.
There are three finalists each for the Polka Grand Prize, two finalists for Cajun & Zydeco, and three finalists for the Anthony Ortiz Jr. Conjunto Prize. However because the Conjunto (age 17 and under) category was so competitive with so many great contestants there are four finalists in that category this year.
The finalists listed by category and alphabetically:
- Polka: Peter Gresser, age 13, from Weatherford; Chris Trojacek, age 22, from Ennis; and Isaak Wolfshohl, age 16, from Seguin.
- Cajun & Zydeco: Chloe Johnson, age 17, from Moscow, Texas, and Steven Williams, age 14, from Humble.
- Conjunto: Ricardo Cabrera, age 10, from Austin; Melenie Lissette Gonzalez, age 17, from Rio Grande City; Johnny Joe Gutierrez, age 15, from Mission; and Perla A. Hernandez, age 15, from Roma.
- Anthony Ortiz Jr. Conjunto Prize: Eloy Renteria Jr., age 20, from Midland; Christina Valdez, age 19, from San Benito; and Jesus F. Venegas, age 21, from Brownsville.
For 2018 Texas Folklife extended ages in the Polka Category and expanded the Conjunto Category into two age categories, resulting in a statewide contestant turnout of 47, one of the highest in the Big Squeeze Contest’s history. Because of the participation level and incredibly high skill level of the contestants, we have numerous honorable mentions this year.
Honorable mentions listed by category and alphabetically:
- Polka: Elijah Clements, age 15, Little Elm
- Conjunto: Ricky Casarez, age 13, Houston; Eduardo Garza Jr., age 17, Mission; and Raul Resendez, age 17, Mission.
- Anthony Ortiz Jr. Conjunto Prize: Darren Prieto, age 18, New Braunfels.
The 2018 Big Squeeze Statewide Accordion Contest Finals and Concert will be held on Saturday, April 21, from 1:00-5:00 p.m. at the Bullock Texas State History Museum.