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That's Entertainment      May-June 2017

Camping in the Cold War South

Unknown designer, 1954.

Unknown designer, 1954.

In its early years Cornyation satirized one of the oldest events in Fiesta San Antonio, the Coronation of the Queen of the Order of the Alamo, an elaborately staged presentation of 24 debutantes in highly ornate gowns and trains as duchesses who attend the newly crowned queen. With merry courts like the Court of Broken Traditions and the Court of Cosmetic Subterfuge, the satire spoofed the pomp and circumstance of the coronation. The Court of the Glorified Barnyard is an excellent example of a style of satire used in Cornyation. The Prologue of the Glorified Barnyard noted in the program that, “As the strains of the great orchestra fade, the lord high agrarian magnanimously summons the share croppers to render homage to royalty.” King Anchovy arrived on “Ye Old Irrigation Ditch,” and the duchesses included four “Country Duchesses” followed by four “In-Town Queens.” The finale was “her horrendous highness, vice-empress of scarecrows and guardian of the throne and yards,” and of course “her corn-fed imperial majesty.” The term “corn-fed” signified both being plump and being provincial or unsophisticated. This theme was a not-so-gentle mocking of royalty that contrasted high society with the sharecroppers and stressed the poverty and rural nature of the “little people.” This contrast between the Lord High Agrarian (the master of ceremonies, who symbolizes elite culture) and the sharecroppers (the performers and audience) emphasized the race and class hierarchies between San Antonio Anglo elites and the rest of the city.

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