By Karl Terry, PNT Managing Editor
It’s a tradition that is more than 30 years old and is defying state-wide trends with a resurgence, organizers say.
Roosevelt County’s Cotton Extravaganza Fashion Show at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Jake Lopez Center at the fairgrounds is the unofficial warmup to the 2008 Roosevelt County Fair.
Cotton Extravaganza coordinator Diane Lieb said Roosevelt County is the only county in the state that still holds a Cotton Extravaganza show.
She said while other counties have slowly dropped out Roosevelt County seamstresses seem to be passing the art of sewing on to younger generations.
With 40 garments entered in this year’s show, she said that is the best participation she’s seen in the 10 years she’s been connected with it.
“We have some third- and fourth-generation models (participating this year),” Lieb said. “It’s gone down that far. Through this we’re just trying to encourage the young ones to keep sewing. It’s a lot of work, it’s a dying art.”
Junior (age 12-17) and adult divisions are offered with 11 categories included. Models range in age from a 1-year-old on up. Best of Show in the junior division will receive a Serger sewing machine. More than $2,500 in prizes are available, Lieb said.
To celebrate one of New Mexico’s most important cash crops, the garments entered must be at least 60 percent cotton.
Lieb said besides giving young people sewing talents, the modeling gives them experience getting up in front of an audience. Some of the participants will even share a talent with the audience.
Lieb said that some contestants learn through their 4-H club but most get instruction from mothers, grandmothers, aunts or friends.
Jeannie Terry has been participating in the event for 15 years and is excited that it’s still going well.
Terry’s daughter Jordan, a senior at Floyd High School, began modeling at age 3 and has been sewing Cotton Extravaganza outfits since turning 10. This will be her last year as a junior.
“It’s an escaping art,” Jeannie Terry said. “It’s a real joy to see these young girls learning to sew.”
In addition to the Extravaganza, the Roosevelt County Youth Horse Show will also be held this weekend.
Entrants will begin putting their horses through their paces at 9 a.m. at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds Arena.
By the Numbers
1 — age of youngest model
2 — boys modeling
8 — age of youngest seamstress entered
11 — categories
36 — years the event has been held
40 — number of garments entered this year
60 — percentage of cotton required in garments entered
What: Cotton Extravaganza
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Jake Lopez Center