BELTON — A hint of nostalgia hung in the air as dancers scooted their boots Saturday during the 18th annual Texas Western Swing Showcase at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton. Leading into the afternoon intermission, other featured musicians joined Ricky Turpin in a heart-tugging rendition of “San Antonio Rose.”
“When we’re gone, I think this is going to be a lost art,” said Barbara Hale of Belton. She and her dancing partner, Clarence Schuetze, of Temple, said they’d been coming to the showcase for eight or nine years.
“I like the Ricky Turpin act,” Schuetze said. “I like all of them, but Ricky’s my favorite out of them.” He said they like to dance the waltz and the two-step.
Dillard Barr and his girlfriend, Jennie Maxwell, both of Temple, also were among the dancers. Although they are western music fans, he said, this was their first time at the showcase. “I like a good country waltz,” he said.
“It’s very nice,” Maxwell said of the showcase. “We really enjoy it.”
Bill Sutherland, 80, of Temple, danced with his girlfriend, Shirley Nelson, 77, of Belton. “Once a week we go to the senior center in Belton,” he said. “The next week we go to the senior center in Temple. And we dance to country and western music.”
But the old-timers didn’t have the dance floor to themselves. There also were a few youngsters, holding out the promise that the official music of Texas has a future as well as a past.
“Look at that little boy,” said Nan Ray, chairperson for the showcase. “He knows his steps.”
Wearing a cowboy hat and a pair of boots, Macrae Meek, 6, looked like he knew what he was doing. His mother, Sunny Meek of Franklin, said he does the two-step, is learning how to waltz, and wants to learn the polka. He plays the fiddle, and recently learned “Liza Jane” and “Boil Them Cabbage Down.”
The little fellow’s favorite singers are Jake Hooker and Jody Nix. His mother explained that when Jody Nix was very young, he played on Bob Wills’ last album. Macrae also likes to hear recordings of Wills.
“He’s played a couple of times on stage,” his mother said. And when he was about 3 years old, she said, they came to the Texas Western Swing Showcase in Belton. He kept requesting that the musicians play “Ida Red.” The musicians were so tickled he knew about “Ida Red” that when they finally played it, Wes Westmoreland, who was among the performers, had him brought up on stage.
Robert Ray, the son of Nan Ray, said about 225 people attended the showcase, and that about 300 were expected for the dance, set for 8 p.m. to midnight. He said he’d been helping with the showcase since the first year. “I grew up around country music,” he said. “We grew up on a ranch, so it was the music to hear.”
Nan Ray said this year’s showcase drew people from all over. “Lots of them have been before,” she said. “We also have some who are here for the first time, who say they’ll come next year.”