Fiesta Hats: Go big or go home!

The Women's Club of San Antonio holds their Fiesta hat contest and dozens of floats make their final preparations for the Texas Cavaliers River Parade.

SAN ANTONIO - The annual Fiesta hat contest held by the Woman’s Club of San Antonio is one of the most stylish Fiesta events of the year, and KENS 5 got a look inside.

Undoubtedly, 2017 is the biggest year yet for Fiesta fashions and traditions.

On the northwest side, inside the Alzafar Shrine Auditorium, the Woman's Club of San Antonio held their annual Fiesta hat contest and luncheon.

"This is the event that I never miss. For Fiesta, this is the greatest!" said local fashion designer Graciela Carrillo of Designs by Graciela.

With just a glimpse inside this official Fiesta event, it's safe to say Fiesta fashions have no limits.

"I have probably 400 yards of thread on this [hat]," said Elizabeth Neely of the Woman's Club of San Antonio, who participates in the hat contest every year.

This year, Neely says that she spent eight hours over the course of three weeks making her fuchsia Fiesta hat.

"The year before last, I had a 'Yellow Rose of Texas' [hat] and I had a yellow dress," Neely noted. "It was kind of Titanic-looking. That one went down to the Institute of Texan Cultures on display 'Texas Ladies and Their Hats.'"

Every piece at the luncheon was a head-turner.

"It's actually two lamp shades that I flipped together. My whole theme was to go pretty big this year," said contest participant, Elizabeth Pacheco. "[The hat] probably weighs about 10 pounds!"

"[It has] 14 dozen hydrangeas, 20 packages of 21 pieces of crystals, then the feathers are from Kentucky," said contest participant Orbilia Hayes, a winner of the hat contest 14 years in a row.

Creating these Fiesta hats took months for some contestants, well worth the end result of the best of Fiesta couture.

"[It has] El Borracho, the NIOSA cups are stacked over here, and the Fiesta mariachi dog is up there playing the guitar. Every one of our medals is on this hat," said Garrett Heath of SAFlavor.com, who added that he partnered with Clara-Nicole She's Crafty Too to create his hat masterpiece.

SA Flavor donates a dollar to charity for every Fiesta medal they sell.

The Woman's Club of San Antonio partners with San Antonio College to give a $10,000 scholarship to a young woman each year. Every month, the organization also supports a different charity.

Meanwhile, downtown, KENS 5 got a sneak peek at some of the 52 floats preparing to make their debut in Monday's Texas Cavaliers River Parade.

This year's parade theme is the "Kaleidoscope of Culture," celebrating different parts of San Antonio, Fiesta, and Texas.

It takes 12,000 man-hours to put on the parade, with 600 members active year-round in the community.

"We set out over 17,000 chairs, so that's a big effort. We decorate all these floats and then there are another few days when we clean up all this mess we make!" said Barton Simpson, the Texas Cavaliers River Parade Marshal.

Simpson announced big news for San Antonio's children: A $1 million donation from the Texas Cavaliers.

"This is the largest donation in the history of Texas Cavaliers, and that's a lot of viva!" he exclaimed.

In all, 60 children's charities will benefit from the 76th annual river parade.

"People see us walking around in our blue suits and throwing out gold coins, but what's important to all of us and what's on our mind all the time is the children of Bexar County and San Antonio," Simpson said.

The winner for the best float in the parade will receive money from the Texas Cavaliers endowment. The funds will go toward the particular cause sponsoring the float.

There are only 1,400 tickets left of the 17,000! Call 22-RIVER or visit the Fiesta store at 2611 Broadway to purchase.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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