Creative costumes abound in annual TCF Product Costume Show
Several dreams were represented and displayed at the 2021 Product Costume Show, put on by the Texas Citrus Fiesta, including that of Leyana Lee Gonzalez, who took first place in the Teen Division.
Part of the tradition of festivities, the Product Costume Show is a competition featuring unique artwork created in a style that has been preserved for over 80 years. Handmade costumes composed of citrus and valley-grown products are covered in flowers, leaves, oranges, grapefruits, lemons and vegetables that have been dried, shredded and pulverized into a powder form before being glued and dyed onto the fabric.
The Product Costume Show is broken down into primary elementary, teen and adult divisions, and also features a hat competition for designers inspired to use Valley products on creatively-constructed headgear.
This year, the Product Costume Show was held at the Mission Event Center on Jan. 16, 2021. Audience chairs were placed socially-distanced in the main lobby, masks were required and temperatures were checked upon entry in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The judges of the competition were Claudia Garza, Irma Dillard-Solis and Shane Gagnet, who all have years of experience with the Texas Citrus Fiesta. As photographs were taken, proud designers and parents watched the competitors walk the makeshift runway and pose in the way their dream personas would have.
Primary Elementary Division (4 to 12 years old)
Jovita Garza created and modelled a dress, shoes and accessories made out of dehydrated lemon, orange, lime and grapefruit leaves, pumpkin seeds, dehydrated red bougainvillea, dried maple leaves, dehydrated sunflowers and sunflower seeds, half slices of limes and bougainvillea. She was inspired by the story of a young girl who, through her modeling, raised money for a child who had to undergo facial reconstructive surgery.
Alyssa Navarro created a uniform, tennis racket, tennis ball, visor and shoes out of crushed lemon, tangerine and grapefruit peel, orange and tangerine, pink bougainvillea and acorns. She was inspired by a story of a girl named Caityln who dreamed of becoming a tennis player who played at Wimbledon.
Sylvia Gonzalez created a uniform, badges, a weapon, hat and boots for her model Matthew Gonzalez made out of green dried crushed grapefruit leaves, brown mesquite sawdust, burnt grapefruit peel, yellow esperanza, mesquite citrus ash, crushed white onion skin, red crushed bougainvillea, dried palm husks and orange crushed peels. Gonzalez was inspired by her son Matthew, who’s dream is to serve the nation’s army as a Private First Class officer.
Jennifer Longoria created a uniform, badges, shoes and bow for her model Camilla Longoria out of powdered roasted orange peels, blended dehydrated grapefruit peels, dehydrated slices of lime, blended grapefruit membrane, lime tree leaves, dehydrated lemons and lemon leaves, orange seeds and lemon slices. She was inspired to create a Girl Scout uniform for a girl who earned accolades in science, technology, engineering, the great outdoors and government.
Dalia Vivian created a veterinarians’ scrubs, stethoscope, and shoes, a large tiger, monkey, owl, vulture, frog, turtle, baby leopard, and butterfly for Tyra Alvarez out of burnt grinded orange and grapefruit peel, dehydrated orange and grapefruit peel, burnt white cantaloupe seeds, lime and lemon product, white pumpkin seeds, peeled purple onion, grapefruit, lime and lemon seeds, yellow onion peel, cantaloupe peel, mesquite sawdust, dehydrated limes and sunflower seeds Valley product leaves. Vivian was inspired to design her dream costume around an animal science lover who grew up to be a veterinarian for zoo animals.
Teen Division (13 to 19 years old)
Leyana Lee Gonzalez created and modelled a professional suit, tablet and shoes made out of burnt crushed citrus, bright crushed and dehydrated purple bougainvillea, pumpkin seeds, dehydrated orange slices, palm husks and dried and crushed onion peels. Her dream has always been to make a difference in the lives of children, so she chose to create a costume modelled after a social worker.
Myling Landez created a flight attendant’s attire and shoes, made out of crushed tangerine peel, crushed orange leaves, dried orange slices and crushed lemon peels. She was inspired to make something for “Flight 2021,” and take everyone somewhere that their dreams could blossom.
Adult Division (20 years old and up)
Briana E. Garza created and modelled a set of radiologist’s scrubs, lab coat, name tag, mask, stethoscope, brain on a tray and x-ray image out of shredded citrus leaves, dehydrated pumpkin seeds, purple powdered onion, sunflower seeds, dehydrated lime slices, shredded orange peel, purple onion and cantaloupe seeds, dehydrated onion peel, white melon peel, white onion peel, burnt mesquite and bougainvillea flower. Garza was inspired by her dream to be a doctor and specialize in diagnosing and treating injuries via imaging machines.
Destiny Gonzalez created and modelled a Border Patrol uniform, belt, boots, gun, flashlight, patch and cap, made out of green citrus peel, burnt citrus leaves, yellow esperanza, crushed orange peel, mesquite citrus ash and dehydrated onion. The attendee of South Texas College was inspired to create her costume from her calling to serve and protect the country.
Teacher Sandra H. Martinez donned a hat she created and would wear to show the life cycle of an orange tree on its way to blossom. The educational accessory was made out of burnt grapefruit peel, Valley lemon peel, sun dried blended citrus powder, dried orange peel, dried orange seeds, burnt orange peel, orange tree twigs and powdered orange leaves.
Jocelyn N. Guerra created a hat as a way to cope with the unfortunate events COVID-19 has brought into her life, and show she can control her dreams and future in the medical field. Her hat, modelled by Jenna Loya, was made out of dehydrated grapefruit crushed into a powder, white onion peel, several combinations of bougainvillea that were dehydrated, dehydrated sliced limes, lemons and oranges, lemon peel, crushed onion peel, blended and whole palm tree seeds and strands, dehydrated purple onion, orange pulp and oak tree seeds.
Aurora Judith Austin Fernandez created and modelled a hat for her late mother, who was named a Yellow Rose of Texas in 2006.The Yellow Rose of Texas Hat was created out of grinded garlic, dehydrated slices of red grapefruit, crushed lemon slices, dried brown pecans, dried yellow rose petals and dehydrated lemon.
Jovita Garza donned and created a hat for a woman interested in strolling the area and birdwatching. Her lucky hat, which coincidentally allows her to see the rarest birds every time she wears it, is made of orange, lemon and grapefruit dried leaves, purple bougainvillea dots, slices of parched ruby red grapefruit, red bougainvillea, dried sunflowers and a dried lemon branch.
Dalia Vivian created a private investigator cap, magnifying glass, pipe and gloves for her model, Gilbert Perez, looking for clues. The detective accessories were made out of dehydrated orange, grapefruit, lime and lemon leaves, white cantaloupe seeds, parched squared limes, cotton balls, burnt powdered orange and grapefruit peel and sunflower seeds.
Myling Landez structured her graduation cap for the hat competition, symbolizing the academic accomplishment of a job well done. Modelled by Alyssa Navarro, it was made out of crushed orange leaves, lemon seeds, small petals of crushed orange and lemon peel and crushed tangerine peels.
Dalia Vivian and Tyra Alvarez and their zoo veterinarian specialist costume won first place in the primary elementary division. Jennifer and Camilla Longoria came in second, and Sylvia and Matthew Gonzalez came in third.
Leyana Lee Gonzalez and her social worker’s costume won first place in the teen’s division. Myling Landez came in second place with her flight attendant’s uniform.
Destiny Gonzalez won first place in the adult division, with her Border Patrol uniform. Briana E. Garza came in second.
In the hat competition, designer Jocelyn N. Guerra and model Jenna Loya won first place. Designer Dalia Vivian and model Gilbert Perez came in second, and designer Myling Landez and model Alyssa Navarro came in third.
Leyana Lee Gonzalez, the 15-year-old teen who won, has been competing in the Texas Citrus Fiesta Product Costume Show for eight years. She attends Mission Collegiate High School, and was inspired to make her costume because of her love for children and future goals of helping them out as a social worker.
“I think it’s great, contributing to traditions and keeping them going for this long, it’s fun,” Gonzalez said of her participation in TCF. “It feels great [to win], and I love kids. If I can help them in any way, I’ll take it.”
Jovita Garza, Alyssa Navarro, Aurora Judith Austin Fernandez and Sandra H. Martinez were all awarded for their notable participation in the traditional event. Dalia Vivian, Tyra Alvarez and their zoo animal veterinarian costume won the People’s Choice award, voted on by members of the audience during the showcase.