Lack of sponsors forces cancellation of Latino festival | AspenTimes.com

Lack of sponsors forces cancellation of Latino festival

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

An attempt to resurrect the valley’s biggest event celebrating Latino culture has fizzled out just two weeks before its scheduled date.

The annual Latin American Festival in the Mountains has been canceled because of a lack of sponsorship and funds for a successful fair, organizers said. Asistencia Para Latinos, a major Latino advocacy nonprofit that provided support for the festival, closed its doors last December.

Although the annual fair was going to be produced by Colorado West Broadcasting, which runs Spanish radio station La Nuestra at AM 980, organizers say the event wasn’t planned far enough in advance to garner enough funding in time.

“Asistencia closed its doors in December, and by the time the festival came to our attention it was April,” said Debra Brainard, operations manager at Colorado West Broadcasting. “Normally this thing is planned for a year. We decided to cancel it because we could have put it together, but it wouldn’t have been the caliber it’s been in the past.”

Guillermo Trejo, program manager at La Nuestra, said he thinks many agencies in the valley work at making up for Asistencia’s absence. But he said the loss of the fair is disappointing.

“It’s a very special festival for Latinos, but I think it’s not that we’re taking a break, it’s that we couldn’t do this because of a lack of sponsorship,” he said. “I don’t think we knew the magnitude of this festival. I know a lot of people are disappointed, but I think it will teach us Latinos that we need to get together on these things. Now we know how important it is.”

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Brainard said her company will begin planning for the festival in the summer of 2003. She said Asistencia was able to get grants for the event, since it had nonprofit status. The broadcasting company had obtained sponsorship from Alpine Bank, Mundo Latino, La Mision and Wells Fargo Bank, but was still well short of the estimated $30,000 to $40,000 needed to produce the festival.

“We thought it was a good fit for us to put this on, because it’s part of our mission with the radio station to inform people and learn about the culture,” she said.

The event was to be held at Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs. Attendees have come from as far away as Denver and Grand Junction, as well as Rifle, Silt and Eagle.

Brainard said she encourages anyone with ideas about how to make the Latin American Festival in the Mountains a lasting event to call her at Colorado West Broadcasting at 945-9124.