Tuesday, July 16, 2019
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IMG 0005Dance like nobody’s watching.

There was a lot of that taking place at the annual WinterFest celebration at Schlitterbahn Water Park on South Padre Island, where a large turnout of Winter Texans braved the cold, wet day to be entertained, sing, dance, eat and enjoy the camaraderie under the protective covering of the pavilion.

Temperatures in the 50s, a bit of light rain and a lot of clouds couldn’t stop an audience from all over South Texas from attending the event to listen to some of the Winter Texan’s favorite entertainers: Tavie Spivey’s Rock ‘n Roll show, Jeff Gordon, Leslie Blasing, Lobo del Mar, Diego and Jason “The Piano Man” Whor-low. The event was emceed by Gary Crain who, among other celebrities, brings the voice of Gomer Pyle to life with stunning accuracy.

AbbaFab, a stunning tribute to the music of ABBA featuring the sensational Anne Davies, Chelsea Faulds, Scotty Pearson and Nick Davies, highlighted the day of fabulous music. The group performed some of the greatest music produced in the 1970s and 1980s including monster hits such as “Dacing Queen,” “Water-loo,” and “Honey Honey,”

IMG 0144Terry Hirschfeld and her husband are enjoying their first year as Winter Texans, living in North Padre Is-land. Hirschfeld, from Kentucky, said they made a list of “warm states,” which included Texas, Arizona and Florida. In the end, Texas won especially because of its low cost of living. Since they’ve been here, she said an-other reason they discovered for coming to South Texas is “the friendliness of the people – they are so nice here.”

She probably made some new friends at WinterFest. She, along with seven others from the audience, joined Spivey on the dance floor and “jammed out” to “The Hokey Pokey.”

“That was so much fun,” Hirschfeld said. “I haven’t done that in years.”

Audience participation was a common theme as different entertainers took to the stage. Blasing, filled with energy, walked deep into the audience, standing on chairs, dancing in the aisle and attracting several people to put in some time on the dance floor. Jodi Strach and Karen Roof, who live at Breeze Lake Camp-ground in Brownsville and are from Missouri, danced to three or four songs and as they were about to walk off, Blasing convinced them to “show off their boots,” and performed two more songs that just brought more people dancing.

Whorlow was asked to give a “teaser” to the audience, playing his piano and his harmonica – with the help of a pair of hands from the audience, whose job was to hold the harmonica in front of Whorlow’s mouth at the appropriate times to the laughter of the crowd.

IMG 0112Some performers took the opportunity to sit and watch the others. Entertainers are usually doing their shows without any other acts so events like WinterFest give them a chance to enjoy what others do, and maybe come up with other ideas for their future shows.

“This is fun,” said Spivey, who kept her audience engaged with a variety of songs from the 50s, 60s and 70s. She had members come to the dance floor, had a music trivia game and, of course, did the full rendition of the “Hokey Pokey” to the delight of everyone in line. “She (Blasing) has a large following and they love her.

“This is the biggest crowd I’ve seen out here and they are always receptive,” Spivey added. “It’s just a great thing that they have and they always have top entertainment. I was excited to see Leslie for the first time, and it’s no wonder she has won Best Female Vocalist for so many years, she’s exceptional. I’ve wanted to see her and I wasn’t disappointed.”

Food was provided by the Shrimp Haus at Schlitterbahn and the lunch line became known as “the Congo line,” because of its length – but it moved especially quickly and those who waited in line were treated with cole slaw, hush puppies, French fries, fried fish and shrimp.

“Did you have some of that food they had there?” asked Spivey, who was part of the entertainment for the third straight year. “It was delicious. It just added to a great day, despite the weather. Good entertain-ment, a great crowd that gets involved and great food. It was fabulous.”

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