Fiesta planned

Craig to host first May 5 celebration

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In a move to celebrate the city's ethnic diversity, Craig City Council has agreed to sponsor a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the Moffat County Fairgrounds.

The celebration will be hosted by Integrated Community (Comunidad Integrada in Spanish), a Steamboat Springs-based organization that encourages cultural exchanges between the Yampa Valley's Anglo and Hispanic communities.

"It's pretty important, because the whole demographic of the area is changing," said Alvaro Landa, one of the event's organizers.

"We need to start blending a little more. We need events like this to bring the community together," he said.

Officially, Craig's population is 12 percent to 15 percent Latino, said Comunidad Integrada spokesperson Cody Reed. Unofficially, the population could be as high as 30 percent.

Emma Mascarenas has lived in Craig since 1952, and she can't remember having an organized Cinco de Mayo celebration here. Through the Visiting Nurse Association, she helps Hispanics in their homes. Never has she heard anyone complain about feeling neglected or forgotten in the community, she said, but the celebration will still be a good thing for the people.

Cinco de Mayo, May 5, is almost more popular in the United States than it is in Mexico. The day commemorates Mexico's defeat of the French. But, as several Craig City Council members learned last week, Mexico didn't win its independence on Cinco de Mayo.

Mexico celebrates its independence Sept. 16, a holiday that in Mexico proves much more popular than Cinco de Mayo, Landa said.

Many of the day's events are still being planned. But organizers already know the celebration will include authentic Mexican food and music by a traditional mariachi band.

Craig City Council's donation of $1,000 will help pay for the band. City councilors debated whether or not to provide the money, because normally they direct donation requests to the Human Resource Council, an organization funded by the council and Moffat County to provide donations to community groups. The council decided to go ahead and donate the money, because it wanted Integrated Community's first attempt at hosting a local Cinco de Mayo celebration to be successful.

"I, for one, am for a Cinco de Mayo celebration to celebrate the ethnicity of our community," Councilor Bill Johnston said.

Although the county commissioners aren't donating money to Integrated Community, they agreed to waive the fee for using the fairgrounds.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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