Los Fresnos News

Texas Folklife Announces 2019 BIG SQUEEZE Statewide Accordion Contest

Showcases of Top Young Accordion Talent to Compete February Through May Across Ten Texas Cities

AUSTIN – Texas Folklife announces the 13th annual Big Squeeze Accordion Contest. The statewide youth accordion showcases and workshops will take place in ten communities across Texas, highlighting the state’s talented young accordion players in four traditional Texas accordion music genres: conjunto, polka, Cajun and zydeco.

The Big Squeeze programming begins Feb. 9 and culminates on May 11 with a festive live concert featuring the statewide finalists at the Big Squeeze Finals and Concert at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, Texas. Four final grand prize winners will be selected from the traditional Texas accordion music genres: polka; Cajun and zydeco; and two conjunto prize winners – one for ages 17 and under and one for ages 18-21.

New for 2019, Texas Folklife is hosting a Cajun accordion workshop and concert in Port Arthur as part of its community engagement programming aimed to encourage youth participation in communities generally underrepresented in the Big Squeeze program.  Also new for this year’s contest, the program has added an extra round of semi-finals for conjunto category due to high levels of participation by conjunto contestants statewide.

The majority of Big Squeeze showcases are free and open to the public and will feature music by established accordion artists as well as the young accordion players. Sign-up, event details and contest rules are now available at texasfolklife.org/bigsqueeze2019.

Luis Gonzalez was the Conjunto Grand Prize Winner for the 2017 edition of the Big Squeeze.

Big Squeeze Talent Showcases

·      Ennis / Ennis Polka Festival / Sokol Activity Center / Feb. 9, 2019 ($8 entry)

·      Dallas / Latino Cultural Center / March 21, 2019

·      Houston / TBA

·      Roma / Roma ISD Performing Arts Center / April 6, 2019

·      San Antonio / Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center / April 7, 2019

·      Los Fresnos / TBA / April 12, 2019

·      Palmview / Palmview High School / April 13, 2019

Semi-Final and Finals

·      Conjunto Category Semi-Finals / Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg / April 27, 2019

·      Big Squeeze Finals and Concert / Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin / May 11, 2019


·      Port Arthur / Cajun Accordion Workshop / Feb. 16, 2019


Four 2019 Big Squeeze Grand Prize Winners will be selected from traditional Texas accordion music genres:  (1) polka; (1) Cajun and zydeco; (1) conjunto ages 17 and under;  and (1) conjunto ages 18-21. The polka genre includes German, Czech, and Polish polka traditions. Cajun and zydeco include zydeco, Creole and Cajun musical traditions. Conjunto includes conjunto, norteño and Tejano.

Each of the Grand Prize Winners will receive a prize package valued at more than $4,000, including a Hohner accordion, cash prize, performance opportunities with Texas Folklife, publicity, professional development and other professional opportunities. Additionally, the Grand Prize Winners will perform onstage with legendary Texas musicians at Texas Folklife’s Accordion Kings & Queens Concert, held at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre in June.

Interested players are encouraged to reserve a showcase slot at a venue in their region by contacting Texas Folklife. Those who cannot attend a showcase may also mail or e-mail their entries to arrive at Texas Folklife no later than April 15th. The complete contest rules and entry forms are available online at texasfolklife.org/bigsqueeze2019 or by calling 512-441-9255.


The Big Squeeze is presented by Texas Folklife as part of its mission to preserve and present Texas’ diverse cultural heritage. Since 2007, Texas Folklife has promoted Texas accordion music genres through the Big Squeeze program. More than 300 young, talented players from dozens of Texas communities have participated in the program, which supports these vital community-based accordion music traditions.

“Texas Folklife’s Big Squeeze program allows us to work with multiple communities across the state to foster these music traditions,” says Executive Director Charlie Lockwood. “As a result of recent community engagement efforts in East Texas we are adding a Cajun accordion workshop in Port Arthur, while increased participation in the Rio Grande Valley has inspired us to hold a conjunto semi-finals contest round.  Texas is a big state with diverse cultures, but the Big Squeeze reminds us that many Texans have a shared musical heritage in the accordion.  We work to highlight and celebrate that through this program.”

Sarah Rucker returns to the 2019 Big Squeeze team as program director. Rucker helped produce the contest from its inception in 2007 and directed it from 2012-2014.

“This program has always been near and dear to my heart,” says Rucker. “I’m excited to help find and present young musicians who are working hard to keep the musical heritage of Texas alive.”


The Big Squeeze offers a variety of opportunities for individuals and organizations to become sponsors of this distinguished program. For more information on becoming a Big Squeeze Sponsor, visit texasfolklife.org/bigsqueeze2019 or call 512-441-9255.

The 2019 Big Squeeze is supported by grants from the Texas Commission on the Arts, the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division, H-E-B, Music Water, Texas Music Office, Southeast Texas Arts Council, the City of Houston through the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, and Rancho Alegre Radio. Additional support is provided by regional partners including Full Gallop, Ennis Czech Music Festival, Museum of the Gulf Coast, Cajun Sounds Internet Radio, Latino Cultural Center Dallas, zydecoevents.com, Texas Polka News, Multicultural Engagement & Counseling through the Arts (MECA), La Joya Independent School District, Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District, Roma Independent School District, Museum of South Texas History, Conjunto Heritage Taller, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Bullock Texas State History Museum, and more!


·      Big Squeeze Finals Facebook Event

·      Texas Folklife Facebook

·      Texas Folklife Instagram

·      Suggested hashtags: #bigsqueeze2019 #txfolklife #accordionist #texasmusic #bigsqueeze #accordion


Texas Folklife (TXF) is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to presenting and preserving the diverse cultures and living heritage of the Lone Star State. TXF is designated by the National Endowment for the Arts as the official folk and traditional arts organization for the state.  Since 1984, the TXF has honored traditions passed down within communities, explored the importance of traditional arts in contemporary society and celebrated the state’s vibrant heritage by providing arts experiences enjoyable and accessible for all generations. For more information, visit www.texasfolklife.org.