Bruce Willenzik came to Austin in May of 1972 to visit his brother. By October, he was in the music business working with the great Brazos River Valley Saturday Night Songster, Mance Lipscomb. In May 1974, he started a seven-year stint working at the Armadillo World Headquarters (AWHQ). A chance meeting with Lucinda Williams in 1973 resulted in a long-lasting friendship and the suggestion that AWHQ bring the artists from the artist market on the Drag inside for Christmas. So, under Armadillo Productions, Inc., the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar was born in 1976. Bruce took over the show in 1981 after the AWHQ had closed and has been Executive Producer ever since. Bruce has served on the Austin Arts Commission since 1989 and the Austin Downtown Commission since 2000. He was Chair of the New Airport Terminal Task Force to develop the local identity theme at Bergstrom International Airport. In 1993, he was the recipient of the first Peacemaker of Austin Award for helping to end the arts wars and recruiting members for the board of the Austin Museum of Art. Bruce is also on the board of Liveable City.
Annie Harding descended from a fine Cajun family, who originally settled Lafayette, Louisiana. She moved to Austin in March 1987 and became Asleep at the Wheel’s office manager the next year. In 1991, she started working at the University of Texas for Nobel Laureate, Ilya Prigogine. Working with theoretical physicists studying quantum chaos, her job was to bring order out of chaos, which was great experience for working at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. When Leea Mechling gave her tickets to the Armadillo in 1988, she began an annual tradition of shopping and enjoying the music at the show. She moved from customer to staff in 1992, taking a job in the box office. One evening in 2000 during a terrible ice storm, a little magic happened when Producer Bruce Willenzik, came by on the slowest night in show history. They have been happily together since then. Annie has taken on a bigger role in management over the years and is now Associate Producer. “It’s wonderful that we are now passing the knowledge on to the next Armadillo generation, including my step-daughter, Melissa Stewart,” she said. “It’s all good.”
Elia Feliz Albarran was a part-time Austinite for most of her childhood and moved here permanently in 2006. Her father, Antonio Albarran, worked at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar as an artist 1980-1984 and always took Elia to visit artist friends for many years afterwards. Elia spent the rest of her time traveling the country with her mother, Marna Dannenbaum, a face painter at Renaissance Festivals. Upon moving back to Texas, Elia took over the family business at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival and has since expanded to include several other regional festivals. The Armadillo hired Elia that Christmas to work the box office. She showed her potential on her first day by handling the back desk during a particularly crazy load-in. Elia joined the management team in 2008. She has her own business, Elia Feliz Studio, and exhibits her jewelry and handmade bags at the Armadillo with her partner, Brandon Eastes. Other interests include photography, graphic design and travel.
Amanda Parker Barnett If the Armadillo World Headquarters hadn't closed its doors, sad as it was, Amanda’s parents probably wouldn't have had a reason to start a family. In 1974, her dad, David Parker, joined the staff at the AWHQ as stage crew and her mother, Kathryn, came on board not long after. Both crewed for the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar in its early years. Amanda was born within a few years of the AWHQ's closing and grew up on its legends. She has been an Armadillo regular since her stroller days and officially joined the staff in her second year of college in 2003. Amanda graduated with a BA in History and Anthropology. She married her husband, Beau, and their son, Parker, follows mom’s tradition by attending the Armadillo every year. Amanda teaches first grade at City School. For her, “The show has always been a facet of my life, and I feel privileged to be part of the legacy!”
Anne Kelley considers herself an “Armadillo baby.” Her mom, Cynthia Kelley, worked for the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar for many years, and Anne used to deliver flyers as a little girl in her Radio Flyer wagon with mom. Her dad, Bart Kelley, has been associated with the show since 1981; he became a full-time member of the team in 1985, when Anne was just a toddler. He is currently the show's night manager. Anne has been at the show every Christmas Eve since her dad began working there. In fact, there have been three to four generations of Kelley women at every Armadillo Christmas Eve since anyone can remember. She has “officially” worked for the Armadillo since she was 15. Anne is an avid photographer and can sometimes be found snapping photos of the action at the show. She graduated from Texas State with a degree in Communications in 2010.
Melissa Jean Stewart transplanted her Cajun roots to Austin in 1987, when she moved with her family from Louisiana. She hung out at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar with her mom, Annie Harding, who managed the headquarters for Asleep at the Wheel at the time and is now Associate Producer of the show. Melissa helped at the Asleep of the Wheel office and joined the Armadillo staff in the mid 1990s as a ticket taker. After graduating from the University of Texas in 1997 with a degree in Earth Science and Biology, she pursued a career in education and has since started her own graphic design and handmade stationery business called Crab Apple Designs. Melissa rejoined the Armadillo staff in 2007 and moved into a leadership position at the Back Desk.