Thousands of Winter Texans look forward to the great entertainment that performs at the annual Mission Winter Texan Fiesta each year. The event is held by the Mission Chamber to say “Thank you” to the Winter Texans that make the Valley their home during the winter season. The event features a great lineup of entertainment, an artisan’s market, a free meal, and a golf tournament.
On Thursday, February 13, the Shary Municipal Golf Course will host the “Fiesta on the Greens” golf tournament. The event will be a six-person scramble 18-hole tournament. There will be prizes, food, beverages and limited spots available. Cost is $40 per person. Make reservations by calling the pro shop at (956) 580-8770. The golf course is located at 2201 Mayberry Road in Mission.
The museum will host their Artesano Market Days on Saturday and Sunday, February 15 and 16, at the Mission Events Center at 200 N. Shary Rd. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The market will feature food from local vendors and hand-crafted items for sale.
On Saturday, free lunch will be provided by the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce to the first 2,200 attendees. Free meal and t-shirt tickets must be collected in advance. The chamber started handing out tickets on Monday, February 10. Go by the chamber at 202 W. Tom Landry to get yours, or call (956) 585-2727 to check availability.
This year’s Winter Texan Fiesta concert features Chari Heldenbrand and High Country, Dale and Gayle, Rusty Rierson, The Chamberlin’s and Southern Express, and the Roger Kensaton Band.
As always, Emcee and show producer is none other than popular cowboy poet, Rich Bellert. This is Bellert’s 18th out of 19 years producing the Winter Texan Fiesta for the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce.
Be sure to bring your lawn chairs for comfortable seating during the free outdoor concert.
Rich Bellert has produced the Winter Texan Fiesta for more than fifteen years sponsored by the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce. It has grown over the years from five to six hundred people in the audience, to over two thousand. Bellert features only live musicians, playing with no mechanical back-up, as he is dedicated to promoting live music festivals. There is always a variety of classic country, blue grass, rock and roll, new country, often oldies from the 60’s, Texas Swing, Mariachi, Folklorico, and laced with some gospel as well.
Bellert attributes the success of The Winter Texan Fiesta to the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce in generously providing both a free lunch and live music, with a variety of vendors showcasing their various services to the Winter Texans throughout the Valley. It is a way for the City of Mission and the Chamber of Commerce; to express their appreciation and say “Thank You” to all the Winter Texans for choosing Mission, and the Greater Rio Grande Valley for the winter months.
Bellert’s unique way of emceeing, laced with cowboy poetry and comedy, is well known throughout the country. He has appeared at the National Traditional Country Music Festival for many years at Missouri Valley and Le Mars, IA which moved to Fremont, NE in 2019. Bellert is also a member of the Traditional Country Music Hall of Fame and is an award winning member of the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo Association.
Chari Heldenbrand and High Country
Chari Heldenbrand, formerly from Michigan, now makes her home with her husband, Louie, in Iowa. Her early years growing up in Michigan and becoming involved with entertaining and music, not only in personal experiences, but on radio and television, are life experiences she will never forget. At age four she was singing in church with her sister at special events. She was a member of the high school band, began playing the piano, and at age 14 received her first guitar.
Soon after, she began playing at a local restaurant in her hometown and appearing throughout Mid-Michigan with the Miles Family Band at churches and community events. As a member of the Mid-Michigan Bluegrass Association she performed with the “Back Porch Pickers” throughout the state. Chari also appeared on weekly television show “Heaven is my Home” and a short movie “Where Do We Go from Here” broadcast both in Michigan and Adamsville, TN. A local radio station personality, Mark Ray, broadcasting on WGLM-FM sponsored a talent show featuring original songs. Her song “Memories” charted number three and “Angel in Black” number six. She also sang “Play Me the Waltz of the Angels” recorded with Doug Wise and was selected to appear in a special concert featuring the top ten winners of the year. Chari recorded an album in Nashville featuring her original songs. Her song “Memories” relating her love for her grandfather rose to number four on the independent international world charts, which included her tribute song to veterans “I Saw an Eagle Fly Today”.
Heldenbrand is a member of the National Traditional Country Music Association “Hall of Fame” and performs at National Music Festivals throughout the country. She is featured at the Wahoo Music Festival in Nebraska sponsored by Sharon and Roger Kenaston as well as The Macon County Music Blue Grass Festival in Macon, MO and at the annual National Traditional Country Musical Association Festival.
Chari, playing the rhythm guitar and singing her favorite songs, will be backed by the High Country Band featuring Barry and Linda Burton who have played for other country stars such as Justin Tubb, Jimmy Dean, Marvin Rainwater and others. Barry will be playing the steel guitar, Linda on bass; and Horace Comfort will be playing lead guitar. Comfort has played lead for Roy Drusky, Cal Smith, Justin Triveno, Kevin Black, and is a member of the Gatesville, TX Hall of Fame, and producer of the Lone Star Country Jamboree in Seguin, TX.
Dale and Gayle
Dale and Gayle Eisenhauer, who are simply known as Dale and Gayle, are retired schoolteachers from Newkirk, OK which is in northern Oklahoma. They are in their 10th year as entertainers having appeared in 38 states and have performed in nearly 1,500 shows.
Dale has played guitar and sung in country dance bands since 1970 throughout Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. He has played back-up and appeared with many country legends such as Hank Thompson, Kitty Wells, Helen Cornelius, Barbara Fairchild, Cal Smith, David Frizzell, Narvel Felts, Wanda Jackson, Michael Martin Murphy, Jimmy Fortune and many others.
“Each of these wonderful legends was a special moment for me as I looked up and saw “me” on the stage playing music with them. I never dreamed I would be so fortunate. It was a dream come true to sing and play with some of my all-time country music heroes,” Dale recalls.
His biggest thrill was to appear with his daughter Kathy, at the Ryman Theater in Nashville; stand in the circle on the stage and perform several songs at a special event at the Ryman.
For four years Dale had a fourteen-piece band, including himself, and put on a “Grand ‘Ole Opry” style show in Ponca City, OK with the quality of a Branson Music Show. A number of fans preferred the local show, making it not necessary to travel to Branson for quality Country Music Entertainment.
Today Dale and Gayle work in the Rio Grande Valley during the winter months and play in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and New Mexico entertaining tourists and vacationers.
Gayle is a trained pianist, beginning with lessons in her childhood, and she never dreamed someday she would be a full-time entertainer, traveling the country with her husband. Gayle plays a split keyboard and is the bass player with her left hand and plays piano with her right hand while she also sings. Dale and Gayle never play or sing to tracks for background backup, their music is always live.
Rusty Rierson, a native of Kansas, is appearing on the entertainment circuit in the Rio Grande Valley for the second year. His popularity as an entertainer is growing by leaps and bounds as he works the Valley’s Winter Texan Parks and subdivisions. With nearly 25 years of experience under his belt, including the Shotgun Gun Red Variety Show on RFD-TV, Rusty also hosts his own show called “Rusty Radio” sponsored by Mid-America Ag Network out of Wichita, KS airing each week on several stations in Kansas and Oklahoma. Other TV credits include the “Phil Mac International Country Show,” Sky TV in Europe and also appeared briefly on a season of American Idol.
Rierson has worked and appeared with country legends such as David Frizzell, T. G. Sheppard, Leroy Van Dyke, Sawyer Brown, Collin Raye, Joe Diffie, Johnnie Western, Jimmy Fortune, Susy Boggus, Moe Bandy, and including newcomers Dustin Lynch, Craig Campbell and many others. Rusty started recording in 2006. He has nine different projects, including the album “Souvenirs” which was recorded in Nashville, charted briefly on the Music Row Breakout Chart in the U S in 2013. It went number four for four straight weeks, on top of the European Country Music Chart and held off country superstar Toby Keith to the second position the whole time. In 2019, Rusty was named “Male Vocalist of the Year” by Valley Star Awards in the Rio Grande Valley, and has been nominated again in 2020 for “Male Vocalist of the Year.”
Despite his success, Rusty is tagged as a country music traditionalist, who has a master’s in Animal Science, has not forgotten that he was raised on a family farm in Kansas, and remains “Country at Heart.”
The Chamberlin’s and Southern Express
The Chamberlin’s and Southern Express is one of the Valley’s hottest new groups. This five-piece band features Mary Chamberlin on lead vocals. Mary has earned many awards from the Oklahoma Country Music Association; including the coveted “Entertainer of The Year,” the first woman in Oklahoma ever to receive this award. Other honors bestowed upon her by the OCMA include being named “Female Vocalist” of the year three years in a row. Mary began entertaining early in life. At age three she was featured on WCCO-TV in Minneapolis.
She tried her hand at both guitar and piano, but soon learned her gift of talent was singing; not only lead, but harmony as well. Throughout her career she has performed with many country artists such as Charlie Louvin, Claude Gray, Marvin Rainwater and The Twitty Birds in Nashville, and on the Louisiana Hayride and Ozark Opry.
Mary met Doug Chamberlin, originally from Muscatine, IA, following her second husband’s death in 2009 after she moved to the Valley. They married in 2014. Doug was playing rhythm guitar, singings vocals and was known for his “straight faced” comedy. Doug introduced Mary to Music Festival’s in the upper Midwest and a new career was born after 40 years as an over the road truck driver.
Southern Express Band members include Mike Peterson from Webster, WI, Dan Steel from Woodward, IA, and Bruce Wutzke from Marion, IA. Each is an accomplished musician with years of musical experience.
Mike Peterson lives near the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, has worked with many successful Minnesota bands, including Darlene and the Boys and has been featured on the RFD-TV network on the Midwest Country Show.
Dan Steel has played with John Conley, Marvin Rainwater and John Anderson to name a few, and is honored with a Hall of Fame Award from the Professional Music Entertainers Club of Iowa.
Bruce Wutzke began playing drums in the 6th grade and continued through high school, later switching to bass guitar and has worked with Hank Thompson and Joan Cash. He is a member of F.A.M.E, (Families Advocating Moral Entertainment) and was awarded the Electric Bass Player of the year twice by F.A.M.E.
Roger Kenaston Band
The Roger Kenaston Band is a poplar high-energy group, well known throughout the Midwest and South Texas for their bluegrass, country, rockabilly and other genres of music. Roger has been an entertainer in the Midwest for many years. He is an award-winning lead guitarist and is the reigning Bluegrass Music Association of Iowa’s “Dobro Player of The Year.” Roger began playing rhythm guitar behind his fiddle playing father in the family band. His style came from many different influences over his career, including the Bakersfield Sound of Buck Owens and Don Rich, the rockabilly of Carl Perkins, the finger picking of Merle Travis and the flat-picking of Doc Watson.
Roger’s wife, Sharon, has been performing for over 30 years, has won numerous awards for her vocals including Nebraska State Female Singer, National Country Music Contest Female Singer, International Country Music Female Singer as well as many other awards for her harmony work. She plays bass or rhythm guitar and or drums in the band. Both Roger and Sharon are members of the Traditional Country Music Association Hall of Fame. They are avid promoters of Traditional Country Music and Dancing and along with their families host the annual Wahoo Country Music Festival in Wahoo, NB, now in its 23rd year.
They have worked with many legends of country music including Stonewall Jackson, Jimmy C. Newman, Charlie McCoy, Jeanie Shepard, Jack Greene, Justin Trevino, Tony Booth and many other well-known artists. They have appeared, and have become favorites of fans, on the Midwest Country Show out of Sandstone, MN broadcast nationally on the RFD-TV Channel. They have also performed in Branson at the RFD-TV Theater for the broadcast, and at Silver Dollar City in Branson.
New to the band this season is Mike Hughes of Oregon, MO. A multi-talented instrumentalist and vocalist, Mike will add his vocals on some of the best traditional country dance music along with old time rock & roll and rock-a–billy tunes. He’ll be playing rhythm guitar and will assist on bass and lead guitar from time to time. Mike was awarded “Honky-Tonk Music CD” of the year for his recording “To Make an Angel Cry” and being dedicated to traditional country dance music is currently working on recording another album.