Cinco de Mayo event Saturday in Craig

6th annual Integrated Community celebration celebrates culture

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If you go

What: Integrated Community’s sixth annual Cinco de Mayo celebration, featuring food, live music, games for all ages, vendors, crafts and more. Everyone is welcome.

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Centennial Mall, 1111 W. Victory Way in Craig

Cost: Admission is free

Contact: Call Integrated Community in Steamboat Springs at 970-871-4599 or in Craig at 970-824-6424 for more information.

Si usted va

Que: Comunidad Integrada patrocina la sexta celebración anual de Cinco de Mayo donde ofreceremos comida, mariachi, danzantes, juegos para todas las edades, artesanías y vendedores. Todos son bienvenidos.

Cuando: 11 a.m. a 5 p.m. sábado

Donde: Centro Comercial ‘Centennial Mall,’ 1111 W. Victory Way en Craig

Costo: gratis

Contacto: Llame a Comunidad Integrada en Steamboat Springs al 970-871-4599, o en Craig al 970-824-6424, para mas información.

— Craig resident Erika Val­enzuela has lived in America for more than 20 years, but her memory of May 5 stretches back to her childhood in Mexico.

Every year on Cinco de Mayo, people stayed home from school and work to celebrate the holiday, she said.

“In Mexico, they use tequila and piñatas and decorate with colors like red, dark green and white,” Valenzuela said about celebrating the holiday. “And firecrackers.”

The cultural tradition was not lost when she moved to the United States, nor when she moved to Craig two years ago.

This year, Valenzuela is volunteering to help prepare for Integrated Community’s sixth annual Cinco de Mayo celebration, scheduled for Saturday in Craig.

The event is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Centennial Mall, 1111 W. Victory Way, and features traditional Mexican fare, music and activities.

Eveline Bacon, English as a Second Language program manager for Integrated Community, said the holiday represents the union of American and Mexican cultures.

The holiday commemorates the Battle of Puebla, which took place May 5, 1862, during an attempted French invasion of Mexico. With the help of the U.S. military, Mexico drove the French out a few years later.

“It was the last time that Mexicans and Americans got together in the military to fight someone trying to invade the country,” Bacon said.

Bacon said a cross-cultural celebration of the holiday is important in bringing immigrants and members of the receiving community together.

Integrated Community is dedicated to bridging the gap between immigrants and the receiving population by offering classes and social events for both factions.

“That’s our main goal — to bring the two populations together,” Bacon said. “There is some separation, but it’s not different than anywhere else. It’s the same challenge that every community faces.”

Integrated Community Executive Director Tatiana Achcar said everyone, “from old-time local residents to the newest newcomers,” is welcome to the organization’s largest cultural event of the year.

“Integrated Community strives to bring everyone from the community together, from all walks of life, to enjoy and celebrate together,” Achcar said.

A traditional mariachi band from Glenwood Springs will perform Saturday along with Mexican dancers.

There will be face painting, vendors and crafts, a piñata contest and a bouncy castle, among other activities and offerings.

“The mariachi’s a favorite,” Bacon said. “You just can’t beat the mariachi. But my favorite part is to see people enjoy themselves. Then, I know my job is done. But I have great volunteers to help me.”

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