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Community members working to preserve Hispanic heritage in Fort Collins through art

New sculpture for Sugar Beet Park
Posted at 11:37 PM, Oct 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-07 01:37:47-04

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Whether or not you can see it, Hispanic heritage is ingrained in Fort Collins.

"So many people don't even know the history of Fort Collins as far as the Hispanics. A lot of people say, 'Well, where are they," said Betty Aragon-Mitotes with Mujeres de Colores.

Hispanics make up just more than 10% of the population in Fort Collins, but their history stems back decades. For many, it started in a sugar beet field in the 1930s now named Sugar Beet Park.

"They worked a lot, sun up to sundown. It was backbreaking work," Aragon-Mitotes said.

For Aragon-Mitotes, it's work that has for the most part gone unrecognized.

"It's forgotten. It's not there. It's under the rug. I don't want it to be under the rug anymore," Aragon-Mitotes said.

So, she and a local artist got to work to shed light on that history and culture. With the help of the community, enough money was raised to create a towering bronze sculpture to be placed in Sugar Beet Park.

"To me, this actually symbolizes sort of that daily grind, like if you could imagine someone who has been in... like they're drowning in quicksand and they grab that branch or something and they pull themselves out," public artist Frank Garza said.

The sculpture is of a hand tightly holding a short-handled hoe — a farm tool that has since been outlawed — that caused years of pain for those who used it.

"That was part of the Hispanic history that we want to shed the light on," Aragon-Mitotes said.

But even then, this sculpture is only one step towards telling the story of Hispanic culture, heritage and art in Fort Collins.

"We have to fight constantly, you know, to make sure that whatever is impacting the Hispanic community, that we're at the table and that's not always the case," Aragon-Mitotes said.

It's a fight that sparked years ago and shows no signs of slowing down.