As happens every year about this time, the fever’s spreading – the Winter Dance Party fever.

Immediately on the heels of Monday night’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, Clear Lake will put on its finest as it welcomes people from around the world for a one-of-a-kind celebration of the early days of rock and roll.

That includes commemorating the deaths of three blossoming personalities – Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper – whose airplane crashed that fateful night near Clear Lake. Indeed, their memories and music will be a big part of the event that starts next Wednesday at the legendary Surf Ballroom.

One of the very neat things about the Winter Dance Party is the very first event, the Wednesday night sock hop. It kicks off the event as a kind of community celebration, allowing families and those interested in seeing what the Winter Dance Party is all about the opportunity to experience the music and fun from that era.

And this year, the sock hop will feature a man who has made a career of re-enacting the all-too-short life of Holly – John Mueller and his own version of the Winter Dance Party, back for another performance at the Surf.

Mueller has starred in the touring version of the Broadway hit musical, “Buddy … the Buddy Holly Story,” and now helps keep Holly’s legacy alive with his extraordinary re-enactment. He’s joined by Linwood Sasser as the Big Bopper and Ray Anthony as Valens as they rock through great hits of that time.

It’s a great kickoff to a world-famous event.

Another extraordinary musical performance is coming to the North Iowa Community Auditorium on Feb. 20. The critically acclaimed, award-winning musical “Once” is based on the 2007 Academy Award-winning film that tells of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant drawn together by their shared love of music.

“Once” has won eight Tony Awards, including best musical, as well as the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. It has garnered many more awards in its 1,100 performances on Broadway and on international stages, and we’re fortunate to be able to see it in North Iowa.

Dare we say this is a “Once” in a lifetime opportunity.

They’re talking about a post-caucus snowstorm in these parts, so maybe you’d like to get out and beat the winter blues this weekend.

Lime Creek Nature Center will hold its annual Winter Festival Saturday afternoon. It offers a chance to enjoy the winter activities in the beautiful Lime Creek area including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snow bike demo, winter scavenger hunt, candle making, nature crafts, and wood carving and fly tying demos. Participants can enjoy marshmallows and hot dogs roasted over a campfire.

Charles City offers up its Cabin Fever Weekend. There will be sporting events, a business show, craft classes, roller skating, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and an indoor kayaking skills workshop to get you ready for summer, as well as many more activities. It’s all presented by the Charles City Area Chamber of Commerce.

Other fun stuff you might want to check out:

John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band on Saturday at the Krapek Family Fine Arts Center in Osage.

Duncan Community Hall’s Winterfest on Saturday featuring entertainment by Kenny Ahern.

The Three Rivers Pony Express Barn Dance and Auction in the Kensett Community Center.

And, as always, good food and drink at your favorite establishments.

So if you have the fever to enjoy a rockin’ good time, North Iowa is the place to do it.

We’ll see you out and about!

— For more on these and other events, see our Local Entertainment section at


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