FreZno 35 is in the books – right along-side 34 other very memorable years.  842 dancers attended the Grand Finale – each contributing to the unique flavor, the spirit and personality of the FreZno event.  Emotions ran high throughout the weekend as everyone was affected by the bitter-sweet reality that when this event was done………..there would be no more FreZno Dance Classic.  There was the sense that this was a reunion of sorts – with many dancers and staff returning after being absent for many years – it was sooooo good to see all those friends from yester-year.  There were ‘highly unexpected’ surprises throughout the weekend – they either brought smiles and laughter, or tears reflecting the delicate workings of sentimental hearts worn on our sleeves.  Surprises (there were many):  The Midnight Cowboys – over the top team performance; a rare appearance by Linda Infante – upstaging the Z Man as usual; a beautiful metal sculpture of a flag signed by many in the dance community; the biggest UCWDC competition at FreZno in years; a HUGE ‘masters’ division in swing; a worthy visit and fabulous performance by Robert Royston (and Laureen Baldovi); Patrick Plagens as Henry; the BEST ever tribute on Memorial Day created by Dann Marquardt; The Gong Show – full of normal surprises and an unforgettable act by Kael Warner eating a banana; and having to dance the ‘last dance’ with Heather surrounded by so many with love and support.  For the first time in years – our schedule ran late – and we didn’t care!  The EPIC show (36 acts) on Saturday night (my retirement party) ran 5 hours and 10 minutes – ending at 2:10 am – and most everyone stayed and LOVED it from beginning to end – because it was spectacular!  For the first time in years – we ran out of ice cream every night (sorry, I guess I didn’t order enough and I ordered ‘plenty’).  For the first time in years – we gave out all 2,200 of those tasty Jello Shots.  FreZno was the very first event on the CTST calendar years ago – and we held the record for some of those years since for the most dance entries.  This year, we TOTALLY SHATTERED all records and leave to our legacy a field of 121 Two Step Competitors.  With FreZno’s roots so deep in country – it’s only fitting we leave a record number of competitors not likely to be duplicated by any other event anytime soon.  We thanked and acknowledged a lot of people who have been the foundation of the FreZno event since 1985 – and presented them with special awards and allowed them to speak about experiences with the FreZno event…….few seized the opportunity – I suspect due to heightened emotions and fear of public speaking.  Jim Slusher truly stepped up and created a very special metal art piece that was the ‘hit’ of the live auction for the USO.  Russ Whalen also created a metal sculpture that was auctioned – thank you both from the brave men and women serving in our military services around the world who will be the beneficiaries of our financial donations to the USO.  Char made the ticket sales happen as always – the winner took home $2,800+ – and with the help of Carlus and Katie – table dances brought in additional donations.  And to the very generous people who purchased the 1st and 2nd row seats with all proceeds going to the USO – THANK YOU!

FreZno people……….the best in the world – friendly, caring, compassionate, positive, humble, warm, genuine in their feelings toward each other.  The staff……..professional, gracious, happy, kind…… your service.  The crew – the hardest working men and women anywhere – it’s a long event of four plus days and four nights – saying nothing of the two set up days prior and a full day of tear-down at the end – making it six full days and five long nights of work, early and late night schedules, and very little time to sleep/rest.  Kudos!!!  The team…….all working together to create something special, something unique, something beyond what is expected at most dance festivals to create a seamless happy experience for everyone attending.  We are the FreZno Family – all of us together……….happy, smiling, laughing, competing, judging, playing music, teaching, social dancing, enjoying the shows, eating ice cream, popcorn, pizza and Jello Shots, supporting each other, hugging each other, loving each other, and now…………..missing each other.  It was a great run…………….God granted me the opportunity to create these wonderful weekends for 35 years for which I am so grateful.  I hope we’re all together again…………..possibly in five years when we would be celebrating our 40th  year in the biz, when we might construct a more social event intended to be a true reunion, a celebration of US, another party with dance, music, and the best group of Alumni anywhere on the planet.  Much love, good health, and an abundance of happiness to all – thanks for lending your special ‘touch’ to our Grand Finale, and thanks for the memoriezzzz.  Please follow us on facebook and stay in touch.

Steve & Heather