Steamboat Springs Twelve little girls have been training for two months to perform a traditional polka dance at Comunidad Integrada's Mexican Independence Day celebration on Saturday.
"The name of the song is Jesusita en Chihuahua and it's a very popular folkloric song," said organizer Fabiola Katthain. "It's a dance from the northern part of Mexico that is danced in a lot of Mexican folkloric events."
Half of the girls performing are Mexican and the other half are American, ranging in age from six to 13. Katthain had to cap off the group at 12 girls who will be wearing traditional dresses from nine of the 32 states of Mexico.
"We started with eight girls and my daughters started calling all her little friends and I had to say, "Stop, I'm not going to buy all these dresses," Katthain said. "We just have the most representative (states), the ones that have the nicest dresses."
Katthain said the process of teaching the dance moves has been gratifying, but also challenging.
"Oh my God, it's been very fun because all the girls are friends of my daughters," Katthain said. "But I want it to look good. I have to tell them, 'This is not a play day, let's practice.'"
The girls will not be the only ones dancing at the celebration. A folkloric dance group and a mariachi band will be coming up from Denver for the occasion.
Authentic Mexican food will be available from local restaurants, Mexican families and individuals. There will be activities for children and an educational component as well.
Guadalupe Hathaway will explain the history of the event and how the Mexicans gained their independence from Spain.
Indigenous peoples were the first to inhabit what is now known as Mexico. The first Spanish soldiers arrived in Mexico in 1521 in search of gold and riches. The indigenous nations that were under the Aztec rule at that time sided with the Spaniards because they were tired of the hardships imposed on them by the Aztec empire.
On Aug. 13, 1951, the last Aztec emperor was captured and three centuries of Spanish rule followed. The workloads forced upon the natives along with diseases brought over from the Spaniards devastated the Indian population. After one century of Spanish rule, 19 million Indians had died.
It was the Criollos, who were people born in Mexico from Spanish parents, who sparked the Independence movement. On Sept. 16, 1810, Independence War began and was led by Father Hidalgo and many other conspirators. The war lasted until 1821.
Mexican Indepenence day is the largest celebration in Mexico and the honorable Juan Marcos Gutierrez GonzÃ¡lez from the Mexican consulate in Denver, will lead the official Grito ceremony on Saturday.
It is tradition for the Mexican people to gather in the zÃ³calo, or plaza, of every city in the country to perform the Grito ceremony and celebrate with food, music, fireworks and dancing.
"Everyone is welcome to this event. Some people might think that celebrating Mexican independence is only for Mexicans," Laws said. "It's just like celebrating Saint Patrick's Day isn't just for the Irish. We want to celebrate the diversity of our valley."
This event is a chance for the community to experience different cultures and see each other as community members.
"A lot of people are surprised who aren't immigrants by the number of immigrants that do live in Steamboat springs," Laws said. "This is a chance to learn about the immigrant culture and for the immigrants to spend time with people who are from the U.S."