Agribusiness  June 17, 2011

Stampede working to welcome Latinos

GREELEY – This year, along with the more traditional festivities such as concerts, rodeo events, demolition derby, a lumberjack competition and motorcycle, bicycle and 10K running races, the Greeley Independence Stampede has a new initiative: to more actively welcome Latinos and visitors of other ethnicities.

Bill Ogg is the executive director of the Greeley Stampede, a nonprofit corporation that spearheads this celebration of Independence Day, local heritage and community, running from June 24 to July 4. He’s candid about the 89-year-old organization’s early stages to be more inclusive in its outreach to different ethnicities.

“We recognize that 30 to 40 percent of our population is of Latino descent or influence, and that’s a tremendous part of the celebration that may not have been sincerely invited to participate as frequently as it could,” Ogg said. “July 3rd is a day where we’re focusing attractions and activities intended to particularly motivate our Latino community to attend the Stampede,” he adds.

Last year the Stampede welcomed 230,000 folks. That’s a fairly significant gathering for a city with approximately 252,825 residents counted in the current U.S. Census.

“We’re taking baby steps to identify the Latino spokespeople – like civic clubs, fraternal organizations, or ethnic groups – who would be able to tell us what attractions are most favorable to the local interests,” Ogg said.

Toward that effort, organizers have sought and spoken to a number of people in the Greeley Latino community to learn what would make the event more special and relevant to this robust populace. It’s a work in progress.

“When you ask a dozen people for their suggestions, you get three dozen ideas,” Ogg siad. “We’re trying to figure out how to focus those suggestions and make the best decisions we can.”

Learning what is relevant and engaging to Latino would-be Stampede attendees will take time. The organizers realize it will also take a commitment of resources, and consistent initiatives to identify and engage with Northern Colorado Latino community leaders, and members who have the pulse of the interests, needs and expectations of their compatriots.

At the same time, Stampede organizers are eager to appeal to Greeley natives and those of other heritages as well.

“We also want to be welcoming to Germans and Irish and all other ethnicities that make up the region’s population,” Ogg said. “We’ve tried, and while not yet successfully – though certainly not for a lack of effort – I don’t think we’ve done nearly what we need to do in working with appropriate contacts in the Greeley area and Northern Colorado.” One example he highlights is how to become more involved with the influx of Somalis and Burmese locally.

Celebrate culture

According to Ogg, the impetus for the annual Stampede celebration goes beyond the western heritage of Greeley.

“It’s a very traditional time for picnics and reunions and those types of events that celebrate community,” he said. “But it’s also recognizing our country’s independence and the ability to assemble and have parties and celebrate culture.”

Admission to the Stampede is modest. General adult admission is $5; seniors and youth pay $2 each. Widely available coupons worth $2 per person can reduce admission for seniors and youth to nothing, while adults pay $3 each. The price of admission is included in tickets to any event such as the rodeo, demolition derby, or concerts.

Those concerts feature artists from various genres such as rock, country, and gospel throughout the two-week event. But on July 3 free concerts on one of the stages will shine the light on Latino musical groups hosted by radio station 96.5 FM (La Tricolor) and Entravision’s TV network.

In addition to the music, Stampede organizers have made a more concerted effort to include Latino businesses and concessions. Vendors such as Tropical Sno, Western Wear, and La Fiesta will participate this year.

Lorena Muñoz, owner of La Fiesta, an authentic Mexican foods establishment that offers to-go items and catering services from its location at 1918 Ninthth St. in Greeley, will attend as a vendor for the first time.

“I made the initial contact with the city of Greeley who referred me to the Greeley Stampede organization,” Munoz said. “That’s how I obtained information on the process and costs associated with becoming a vendor.”

She has attended the Stampede with her family in the past and found the family-oriented focus welcoming. But with kids who want to get on every ride and attend every event, she said the event can get a bit costly.

Regardless of cultural backgrounds, skin tones, or accents, patrons of the Greeley Stampede might also consider the organization’s investment in their community.

This year the nonprofit will provide 16 graduating high school seniors in Weld and Larimer counties with $1,000 scholarships, and reimburse or compensate area youth and fraternal civic groups for assisting with event hosting duties such as parking coordination and ticket taking, to the tune of $130,000.

Ultimately, Ogg said, the intent is to extend nothing less than a “wholesome invitation for people of all cultures and ethnicities and religious beliefs to come celebrate what is a long-standing tradition of festival in Greeley, Colorado. The entire Greeley Stampede has attractions and fun entertaining activities to do for all people. Everyone is welcome every day.”

GREELEY – This year, along with the more traditional festivities such as concerts, rodeo events, demolition derby, a lumberjack competition and motorcycle, bicycle and 10K running races, the Greeley Independence Stampede has a new initiative: to more actively welcome Latinos and visitors of other ethnicities.

Bill Ogg is the executive director of the Greeley Stampede, a nonprofit corporation that spearheads this celebration of Independence Day, local heritage and community, running from June 24 to July 4. He’s candid about the 89-year-old organization’s early stages to be more inclusive in its outreach to different ethnicities.

“We recognize that…

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