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The Texas Citrus Fiesta
79th Annual TEXAS CITRUS FIESTA
Mission stages the big event every year
It's January in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and while the rest of North America shivers in the winter cold, the valley is shining with the glow, fragrance and warmth of sweet ruby red grapefruit, succulent oranges and juicy lemons. Texas produces and provides the world with more than 10 million pounds of citrus per year, a true cause for celebration. In honor of this great feat, Mission, Texas annually hosts the Texas Citrus Fiesta which involves three days of fun, generally held the last weekend in January.
According to the official festival website:
The citrus industry in the Rio Grande Valley was still young when Paul Ord and the Young Men's business League introduced the first Texas Citrus Fiesta in Mission, in December 1932. They saw the celebration as a way to spread the word about the bountiful winter harvest of grapefruits and oranges from the lush subtropical Rio Grande Valley.
The Theme of that First fiesta, held outdoors against the background of the citrus bearing trees, was "Coronation and Pageant of Citrus". John H. Shary, considered the Father of the Texas Citrus Industry, reigned over the one-day celebration. It started with a half-hour concert and ended with the coronation of King Citrus and Queen Citrianna. This became a tradition of "royalty", with a citrus industry leader chosen as King and a Queen chosen from Rio Grande Valley "Duchesses", each representing a community and its product or industry.
The second Fiesta did not take place until 1934 because of damage caused by a hurricane in 1933. Other than during World War II, the fiesta has been held annually.
In the 1930's, Fox Movietone News enjoyed showing the Valley's lovely ladies in bathing suits in a swimming pool full of floating grapefruits while the rest of the nation was in a deep freeze. The fiesta still takes delight in showing off the lovely ladies and handsome lads at the Coronation of King Citrus and Queen Citrianna. Coronation is now held indoors amidst the flourish of herald trumpets during the last week of January.
Since 1932, the Fiesta has presented its Product Costume Style Show, where exquisite costumes made of citrus and other local Valley products are exhibited. Through the years, and with modern technology, the costumes have become intricate works of fold art using Valley citrus, fruits, vegetables and foliage that have been pulverized, dehydrated, blended and micro-waved. These costumes have been featured in National Geographic, Southern Living, Texas Monthly magazines, and at shows from Kansas City to Washington D.C. This years event is scheduled for Jan. 16,2016, 2 P.M., Entry Fee is $5.00 each and is being held at the Mission Community Center, 1420 E Kika de la Garza in Mission.
This years 79th Fiesta will be held Jan. 28-30 and will include a carnival, live music, ethnic foods, the coronation of Queen and duchesses and the unique Parade of Oranges. The Parade, scheduled Saturday, January 30, 2016 (Line up starts at 11:00 A.M.to 2 P.M. on 2 Mile Line and Conway, Parade starts at 3:00 p.m., Parade starts on FM 495 and runs South to 4th Street) is definitely one of the most unique parades in the country and definitely the best smelling! The elaborately decorated floats, and costumes must be covered with at least 90% Valley fruits and vegetables. Don't miss the costumes from previous years on display at the Mission Historical Society.
The festival even features dresses and colorful costumes made of oranges. Yes! Oranges are just one of the many local products that contestants use in the design of costumes for the Product Costume Style Show. Then the annual Parade of Oranges features floats covered with Oranges and varied agricultural products grown in the Rio Grande Valley. The parade is enjoyed by over 100,000 spectators from the United States, Mexico and Canada, making this a truly international event. Floats built by civic organizations, churches, businesses and schools parade down Conway Avenue in Mission for your enjoyment.
One of the highlights of the event is the coronation of the Texas Citrus Fiesta Royal Court on Jan. 28 where you can witness the pageantry and excitement and crowning of the new "King Citrus." The event is staged at Mission High School Neuhaus Gym, 1802 W Cleo Dawson St.
If you are an avid runner or an early bird who likes to be in the action, then sign up for the annual Fiesta Fun Run. What could be better than a brisk run for fun before the Parade of Oranges?
The first recorded planting of citrus in the valley was in 1882 by Don Macedonio Vela and while his first attempts failed, the seedling of an idea for a citrus industry was born. Success finally came in 1908 and Texas first orange orchard was established by Charles Volz. In 1934 the Ruby Red grapefruit was patented, eventually becoming the state fruit and the industry grew.
While much progress was made in growing techiniques some things throughout history have not changed. Primarily, the harvesting of the citrus crops. All Texas citrus crops are harvested by hand as mechanical harvesters are believed to damage the fruit and the trees...the Texas difference and you can tell it in the produce!
So come and grab some liquid sunshine, tropical Texas weather and a bit of Texas history and culture at the Texas Citrus Fiesta.