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Living Cornyation History, With Ray Chavez

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio

In this episode of TPR's Fiesta podcast, hosts Asia Ciaravino and Angela McClendon Johnson share some of their own Cornyation stories, and we visit with the man himself: Ray Chavez. 

In 1951, the San Antonio Little Theater  — now the Public Theater San Antonio — was invited by the San Antonio Conservation Society to provide entertainment during Fiesta.

"It was a direct take off on the Order of the Alamo," says Ray Chavez, longtime organizer of Cornyation. "Instead of the Court of the Royal Gardens at Midnight, we had the Court of the Cracked Salad Bowl. It really wasn't skits. It was basically just a costume (pageant)."

As the 1950s turned into the 1960s, though, the on-stage antics became too modern for the Conservation Society, and Chavez says he and his crew were not invited back. 

Credit Nathan Cone / Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
Ray Chavez

Then in the early 1980s, Cornyation was resurrected by Chavez and Bob Jolly at the Bonham Exchange. Continued growth of the raucous event that now includes a lampooning of local politics and celebrities has led to bigger venues, and now Cornyation is held at the Charline McCombs Empire Theater, benefiting charities like the San Antonio AIDS Foundation, Beat AIDS (Black Effort Against the Threat of AIDS), and HAC (Help, Action, Care).

This is episode four of an eight-part series.

WATCH | Ray Chavez' PechaKucha San Antonio presentation on the history of Cornyation