Peter Anzaldua of Brownsville is the 2012 Texas Folklife Festival Big Squeeze champion.
Anzaldua, 15, won the 29th Annual Accordion Kings & Queens contest Saturday night in Houston for the best young accordion players from across Texas.
In addition to taking home the top prize of $1,000 and a Hohner Classic II accordion, after winning the contest Anzaldua got to play a set on the Miller Outdoor Auditorium stage with headliners Flaco Jimenez, Mingo Saldivar and the Texmaniacs.
“That was amazing,” his mother Christi Anzaldua said of seeing her son perform with the Texmaniacs, one of the top Tex-Mex conjunto groups in the country.
Anzaldua, who attends Veterans Memorial High School, said the fact that people were dancing during the contest made it easier to perform well. He beat out three other finalists, Luis Gonzalez of Grand Prairie, Michael Salinas of Dallas and Omar Garza of Mission.
“I was excited,” he said. “It’s better when there’s dancing. People get into the music and it just comes together more.”
As the Big Squeeze champion, Anzaldua will perform at Texas Folklife Festival events throughout the coming year. He said he expects to perform soon in the Rio Grande Valley, but as of Sunday afternoon wasn’t sure exactly where.
In the Big Squeeze he performed the polka Viva Seguin as one number and a medley of songs including the Folsom Prison Blues as the other. The contest was for accordion players of any genre. The other three finalists played Norteño selections.
Between 6,000 and 8,000 people attended the Accordion Kings & Queens contest, which like all Miller Outdoor Auditorium events was free to the public but required advance tickets for covered seating and access to the dance floor.