An all-star lineup of entertainment greeted guests who attended the first Valley Star Awards Show held at Victoria Palms on Saturday, Feb. 25. Robert and Billie Ferguson, activity directors at Victoria Palms, hosted the event.
Ferguson explained that he devised a list of entertainers with every entertainer he could find entertaining in the Rio Grande Valley parks and resorts and put them in a category. The list was sent to members of the Activity Directors Association at the various resorts. Activity directors were invited to select their top three favorites in each category. The top three people or groups in each category were listed on the official ballot.
The ballots were then sent to the parks where residents could vote on their favorites. The entertainer receiving the most votes in each category was declared the winner, while the one receiving the most votes overall was named Entertainer of the Year.
Darlene Rolle, a.k.a. Auntie Kreamsaugen, kicked off the evening’s events with a portion of her comedy routine about her campaign for the presidency. “We need a change…we need a woman in the White House,” she told the crowd who, by their laughter, agreed with her speech.
Following her routine, two awards were announced. The first was for Country Western Band. Nominees were Jealous Heart, Sweetwater and Travis Country. The winner was Jealous Heart.
The second award was for Rock & Roll Band. Nominees were The Agency, Ralph & the Cruisers and Renaissance Rockers. The winner was Ralph & the Cruisers.
Jerry Bennett was then invited to entertain. He sang several songs such as “In a Mississippi Cotton Pickin’ Delta Town”, “Make the World Go Away” and Kiss an Angel Good Morning.”
The award for Novelty Acts followed. Nominees were Rich Bellert, Mike Bliss and Kristine Stout. The winner was Kristine Stout.
Nominees for the award for Comedy shows included “Auntie Kreamsaugen,” Bernie & Red and Gary and Patsy Crain. Bernie & Red received top honors.
Wally Barbee provided the next segment of entertainment. She sang “Something in Red,” “Where the Boys Are” and “Sweet Dreams.”
The award for Gospel Group followed. Nominees were The Deep River Boys, the Link Family and the Punches Family. The Punches Family was the winning nominee.
Gordy and Debbie won the award for best duet or trio. The nominees also included Bernie & Red, Freddie &Sheila, and due to a tie, Jay & Tammy.
Gordy and Debbie were the next entertainers. They sang songs like “Island in the Stream,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Can I Have This Dance?”
The next award was for Family Group, with Redhead Express taking top honors. Also nominated were Goldwing Express and the Link Family.
Nominations for musical groups who are not related went to Aloha in Texas, Cactus Willie, Boxcar Bob & Wil the Drifter, and From the Heartland. Cactus Willie, Boxcar Bob &Wil the Drifter took first place.
Substituting for John Sager was Leslie Blaising, an entertainer well known on South Padre Island. She gave a lively presentation that included “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation.” She also entertained the crowds by giving Robert Ferguson a miniature trophy for Man of the Year.
Male Vocalist of the Year was the next award. Nominees were Ralph Kuster, Rolando Reyes and John Sager. The winner was John Sager.
Female vocalist of the Year nominees included Susan Hudson Carman, Cyndi Renee, Rainy Mandell and Ruthi. The winner was Susan Hudson Carman.
The final set of entertainers were the Link Family, who sang “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” a medley of Irish songs, and “Muleskinner.”
Saving the best for last, the most prestigious award, Entertainer of the Year, was awarded to John Sager.