The 89th Lemon Festival is looming. In three weeks we will be there! The theme? Rock and opera. But in the municipal workshops in recent days it is above all…
Rock’n’roll! Dozens of municipal employees are working around the structures, around the XXL subjects that will take place on the rafts and in the Biovès gardens.
Since last October, no less than 80 people have worked hard to shape the 10 floats and the 7 citrus motifs of the Biovès gardens and their structures.
The rest of the time they mostly work in a traditional way in different departments of the City.
But for the Lemon Festival, they put their expertise at the service of tradition, of this event which for them, Mentonnais, is part of their heritage. An extraordinary addition of talent.
“It’s a chain. A joint work” points out Sylvie Dorival, assistant director of the municipal workshops.
“Everyone depends on the others… The success of the party depends on this teamwork…”
Meet some of the links in this chain.
1. The temporary workers in charge of fixing the fences
Some of them already started in October. As soon as they received the pieces of structures sent by the Povigna family, celebrants from Nice, several temporary workers took over to effectively fix the mesh that will serve as a support for the citrus fruits.
But also to install the “cliffs” of synthetic plants, which will attract the floats and structures of the Biovès gardens and will serve as a border between lemons and oranges.
A long-term, meticulous job, because the mesh must be tight enough to support the weight of the citrus fruits.
“There is still work to do! After that we will also participate in fruit formation, to dress the citrus rafts…”they testify.
Temporary workers who return year after year.
“We try to find the same people, who have gained knowledge and experience” Sylvie Dorival exhibits.
This is the case of Gilles Mervelay, the oldest temporary worker: “This is my 14th year in a row” says the one who fell into it, since, in fact, intermittently, the 90s.
“He’s always in the air, he has an eye when something’s missing… He’s one of us. And he’s precious.”insists Sylvie Dorival.
2. Mathieu and Manu, the locksmiths in charge of repairing the structures
Mathieu Fouilhé and Manu Giuliani are locksmiths in the City Services. All year round they repair the locks, openings, openings, of communal buildings.
But for the Lemon Festival, they put their expertise to the service of the occasion. They are the ones who will tie the different elements of the structures together.
They who will see to it that they are well fixed.
“We also check if the structures are well attached to the tanks… Because the tanks have no suspensions, the slightest hole we take, it hits, it leans…”
And it can be dangerous. But Mathieu and Manu take care to avoid any problem. “Sometimes we prefer to strengthen the structure. Better to take all the precautions!”
3. André Jaume, the polystyrene sculptor
With the blade of his cutter, he gives life to a block of polystyrene. From every movement of his blade a line is born, a dimple, a cheekbone, a wrinkle, a lock, a vein, a curve, an eyebrow, a look.
André Jaume, sculptor who is recruited all year round by the Tourist Office, creates especially the big characters that will be positioned on the floats.
Their heads, their arms, their hands, their instruments… Across from him, the block turned into a face.
The of … Jean-Louis Aubert, of the Telephone Tank.
“We have the sketches of the carnival float… With the size scale. Each square is one meter by one meter… We are working with it” revealed Andrew.
And with his eye. And his know-how, which he has been honing for 30 years and has been putting at the service of the Suurlemoenfees since 2019.
“We will also test by positioning directly on the tank…”
4. Pascal and his double hat
Pascal Mervelay has a double hat. Firstly, he specializes in coatings and plasters, and will work on the different elements, texture, give shapes, form faces…
“In addition, they alert us to defects in the structure or decorations…” explains Sylvie Dorival.
Before we move on to Pascal’s second cap: “He is a bit like an orchestra conductor. This lemon festival exists thanks to a big puzzle: all the trades are intertwined, each one depends on each other… Pascal, he has a global vision, from start to finish. He supervises, alerts us when there is a problem, a delay. And we find solutions.”
“This is my 13th year at the City…” testified Pascal.
“But before that I was already there… For 14 years, every year, I was a temporary worker here at the municipal workshops, for the lemon festival… I did the toast, the fruit… And one day, ‘ a painter left, and I was offered to enter the City…”
The Lemon Festival? All his life!
5. Audrey, the artist who brings the characters to life
It is Audrey Ferrari’s sensitivity and expertise that gives life to the XXL faces of this lemon festival.
“She works a lot with airbrush, and by photo, on her tablet… Through the superimposed games of light, through trompe-l’oeil, she underlines all the details that will make us, even from a distance, immediately recognize the characters… She is inspired by photos, sometimes even plays their music, she absorbs it, and that’s what makes her give it back to us so well…” explains Sylvie Dorival.
And Audrey to indicate: “It’s up to me to find the detail that makes you immediately recognize the person… For me, it’s the look that does almost everything!”
And she passed that of a certain Johnny brilliantly.
“I often take pictures of my work to get perspective. If there’s a problem and I can easily see it, people will too! So you have to edit…” She, who has been doing it since 2010, never gets tired of it.
“The rest of the year I work on municipal constructions… And then, for 6 months, on events, between Christmas and the Lemon Festival… I like this rotation. When you’re tired of the events, we move on to the works. And then, the works, it’s good for 5 minutes, so we’re happy to find the events! Every year it’s a new challenge, because the theme changes… These are challenges! And I like it “.
6. Carole, the “hairdresser” of the giant heads
On a large stepladder Carole Lecoroller sits a giant head. Better than that, she creates the hair of this great character, using large strips of plastazote, a material that gives relief while remaining very fine, for remarkable details.
During the year she is a painter, and also works on buildings, classrooms, etc. But, at Christmas, and for the lemon festival, she is one of those who take part in offering dreams to the spectators.
“It’s not easy, because you have to go fast! We’re on full speed”, she testifies. In her workshop she also created, in the same material, flowers, stars, dozens of decorative elements.
“Many things that will dress up, enhance, color the decorations, all with finesse”says Sylvie Dorival.
7. Yann, the final touch that makes tanks shine
The small pearls that make Carmen’s giant earrings sparkle are, for example, him: in his studio, Yann Lecestre receives almost finished objects. It is he who will give the final touch, in terms of beadwork, decoration, for a complete final version.
“After him there is nothing left to do! Just hang around and fix the elements”emphasizes Sylvie Dorival.
Yann shows great creativity to sublimate each object. “It is very thorough,” he says. “But very interesting!”
8. Lucille, the one who “lightens” citrus patterns.
Very busy decorating an umbrella, Lucille Ros is there to “illuminate” all the citrus motifs, and to set up the decorative elements that will give life to every scene in the Biovès gardens.
She has just been tinkering with colorful patterns in paper that she has laminated so that it can withstand the rain and that will add the final touch to a parasol that will brighten up the citrus patterns.
His work: finishes, details, fabric, paper, etc.
But not only that: this year she will drive a tank for the first time.
“I’m very proud of it! I’ll be the first woman to drive a lemon festival float! I’ve wanted to for quite a few years. I’m a little scared… But we’re trained for it. We know, when we’re in the way down to Castellar, that in places, it just goes… That sometimes in the corsos, in certain turns, certain spectators, unconscious, sit themselves against the tanks… We are sensitive and there are people to guide us. I am eager to !”
9. Sébastien, the “fruitful supervisor”
Sébastien Maulandi, from the garden department, joins the municipal workshops for the lemon festival every year, between January and until dismantling in March.
“It is he who gives the starting signal for the fruits” explains Sylvie Dorival. “He follows the progress of the work on the tanks, makes sure that the fences and cliffs are properly fixed… He will also supervise the fruit formation”.
He is also responsible for ordering the tons of lemons and oranges that will dress the floats.
“It is a management throughout the event, because it is also necessary to take care of the maintenance of the floats, and the replacement of damaged citrus fruits on the floats…” testifies Sébastien.
No time to get bored!
10. Yann and Cyril, the carpenters
Yann Deremarque and Cyril Mercier are carpenters, specialized in events. As soon as the City needs them, for Christmas, the Lemon Festival or the Arabian Horses, they leave their usual tasks (creating furniture, cabinets, renovating municipal buildings, etc.) to work on these events.
At the moment they are busy with the carpentry of the tanks and the structures.
“The plexiglass windows, the wooden guitars… Here we make the end of the neck of Elvis’ guitar… XXL versions! We will then put the keys there to adjust the strings etc…”
Details they never overlook, especially when it comes to instruments: they are also passionate musicians.