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Cornyation: Fiesta's Lewd, Crude And Rude Celebration Of The Offbeat

Joey Palacios

For three days the traditional Fiesta is turned upside down as an event known as Cornyation rips apart political correctness and turns it into a stage act dramatizing current events.

Cornyation may be lewd, but the party with the purpose is left intact, the spoof on the Fiesta Coronation takes place April 23-25 at the Empire Theater.

This year there are about 12 Cornyation skits, and each one pokes fun at something different: Childhood obesity, the nearly retired Twinkie, Gov. Rick Perry and sonograms, the NRA, a pensioned Pope, and even Manti Te'o.

"It is a really collaborative effort." said Elaine Wolf, one of the co-emcees of Cornyation. "Every team of volunteers write their skit and designs their skit. I think there’s ten or twelve skits this year so they are each individually designed by incredibly talented people."

Each of the groups creating these skits is called a 'court,' but even a jester’s court is not complete without a king. King Anchovy watches the entire performance from the side of the stage, and each year King Anchovy is a different person.

This time former Congressman Charlie Gonzales has the honor.

"Many years ago it was deiced that King Antonio needed some competition so King Anchovy was created. I'm the 48th King Anchovy. This is the 48th year we look at Fiesta in a very light hearted fashion," Gonzales said.

Backstage before the curtain rises, each court gets ready to go on, running between dressing rooms and putting on the final touches of elaborate costumes.

Leoria Uribe is dressed as a 13 foot pizza and represents the Court of Pies, Fries, and Thunderthighs.

Her skit takes a satirical look at rampant childhood obesity. She said it took months to create costumes like giant french fries, chubby kid outfits and backdrops.

“[It takes] about a good two months of off-days and as soon as I get home from work. Every weekend Saturdays and Sundays we have the entire crew working, that’s ten people – sometimes they bring their significant others- and everybody’s working all day from like 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.," Uribe said.

The event is ridiculous, but that’s the point. it does, however, come with a beneficial twist. Cornyation is a non-profit and all the money is funneled into local charities.

"Our two principal benefactors for many years have been the San Antonio AIDS Foundation  and BEAT AIDS,” said Tom McKenzie, the president of Cornyation.

The show lasts about an hour and a half and following the show the cast crowds the sidewalk outside of the Empire Theater to converse with the audience and hand out fiesta medals. Lisa Ortega and her family said they never miss a year.

"This is fiesta, if you want crazy San Antonio come to Cornyation, it is the best. For 30 plus years it’s been on, you can’t go wrong," she said.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules