After months of preparing, peeling and dehydrating, Rosalinda Olivarez had to redo her costume from scratch with less than a week until the Texas Citrus Festival Product Costume show.
The ensemble, which Olivarez decided would be a jukebox, must be covered entirely in earth-grown product. But the organic contents were destroyed because they mildewed.
The 78th Texas Citrus Festival celebrates Old Time Rock & Roll for this year’s theme and participants in the product costume fashion show Jan. 17 prepare year-round for the event.
Be it dried or fresh decorations, participants work tirelessly to put their garment together for the runway. They peel, eat, grind, glue, repeat and lose sleep until the contest is done, but they said it’s worth it to see the finished product.
“It is a lot of work to be able to do it and balance everything else,” Olivarez said. “I have a full day of work, other responsibilities, and I do a lot of volunteer work so any extra time that I have I’m eating oranges or cutting them up. It’s a labor of love.”
Contestants can attend workshops where they learn techniques to assemble the agricultural products on the clothing. Olivarez and Joann Olvera entered the contest four years ago and picked up tricks of the trade along the way, but they still find themselves experiencing mishaps with the process.
Their first year, they allowed their models to bustle around while in costume and didn’t realize the product would fall off. It wasn’t until later they noticed the veteran competitors standing still so as to not lose the produce.
Part of the process is learning what glue works best. Designers can have entire costumes glued, but they fall apart once they are lifted, causing the products to mix together, wasting hours of work.
But the ladies are resourceful.
“Even if it mixes, you save it as a different color,” Olvera said. “Instead of throwing it away, you put it together, burn it and make it black. That way I don’t misuse anything. Somewhere along the line I’ll use it.”
And even when an all-mighty, all-sticking glue is found, it could take a turn for the worse, like the time when an entire costume shrunk after the adhesive dried.
Olvera and Olivarez laughed as the relived the tale of the shrunken garment, simulating measurements with their arms and hands.
“There’s a lot of funny mishaps that happen to all of us, but we know now so we use stronger product or we use better methods,” Olivarez said. “We’ve been doing it for four years and it’s a lot of fun.”
Even though their skills have improved throughout the years and they try their best to take home one of the cash prizes, they participate simply because they revel in the excitement.
“I never win, but that’s OK because I love it. It’s fun and it’s something that I came into and I cannot leave it now,” Olvera said. “It’s really nice to go in and make your little creation and you’re proud of it.”
Even though Rosie Olivarez had to restart the project, lose more sleep and eat more oranges, she was determined to finish what she set out to do.
“It really is a lot of hard work but the end result is so amazing because you know that what you did, you did with a lot of patience, dedication and a lot of love,” Olivarez said. “I’m excited. I’m exhausted, but I’m excited.”