On the second weekend of October, the streets of downtown Durango were full of people of all ages excited about the history of our community. It was the third annual Durango Heritage Celebration, put on primarily by a group of people who love this town.
On Friday, Suzanne Parker invited the ladies who did much of the work to a thank-you luncheon at her Florida Mesa home. The talented cook (she has a whole bookcase of cookbooks and a huge pantry) prepared a Southern menu of shrimp, sausage and chicken gumbo with rice, Caesar salad, baguettes and a bread pudding with homemade whiskey sauce that made more than a few guests consider licking their plates.
After the luncheon, the women took a field trip to Parkers studio, which is filled with Victorian and Edwardian outfits, hats and other accessories to die for. Although Ill give the corsets a pass, thank you.
On the guest list were heritage celebration board members Bonnie Brennan, Carleen Utterback and Carol Bruno; Emily Spencer and Jill Petersen from the Strater Hotel; and Yvonne Lashmett from the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. A number of members of Mrs. Camps Town Ladies and Gents helped in the effort. Ladies from that group attending the luncheon were Susie Ammann, Laurie Barker, Cindy Cortese, Pat Dworkin, Leslie Jackson, Annie Johnson, Carol Lewin, Kathy Setka and Aleka Tisdel. (Parkers husband, Tom Doak, who does more than his fair share as support staff for the event, at least got to enjoy some leftovers, as did I.)
Between 100 and 200 people attended at least one event during the Durango Heritage Celebration. There were some highly popular events, including the Victorian Ball and the re-enactment of Zaidee Rockwoods 1901 wedding and Wedding Banquet the wedding of the decade in young Durango. The menu included items that were actually served at the Strater Hotel on New Years Eve 1901. About 140 men, women and children took a ride back into history on the Heritage Train, most dressed in historic garb. The tour of the Hermosa Cemetery was sold out, and the Tea & Fashion Show was great fun.
The attendees were split between locals and out-of-towners from Montana, Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and other parts of Colorado. A number of people said this was the best celebration of Victorian and Old West life they had seen.
Not only does this event bring visitors to town during our slower shoulder season, it brings us together to remember our communitys roots. On the historical tour I led on the trolley, I had newcomers to town, old friends, repeats from last year (best compliment ever) and visitors to town. All of them enjoyed learning a little something, shared a laugh or two and saw Durango in a whole new way by the time they descended back on to Main Avenue. Thats what the Durango Heritage Celebration is all about.
b b b
Possibly getting the first snow of the year for their birthdays are Jane Mercer, Marilee White, Gayle Brown, Peeb Lupia, Georgine Mounts, Alexander Miller, JeannieBennet, Richard Cox, Stacey Sullwold, Bill Postler, Meghan Youngblood, Germaine Rogers, Julie Arbaugh, Dawn Spaeder, Jenna Mulligan and Stella Welcher.
b b b
The 14th annual AIDS Benefit was a reminder that this epidemic continues, mostly under the radar.
The Henry Strater Theatre was a symphony in red, black and white Saturday night, with guests wearing red ribbons to remember those we have lost to the disease, the thousands currently fighting it and those still being infected because of lack of education and cultural taboos.
That was the message keynote speaker Robert Foley, the executive director of the Native American AIDS Prevention Center, brought. The rate of infection, which primarily hit gay, white, urban males in the first wave of the disease now affects almost everyone. The groups with the highest rates of infection with HIV and AIDS now, 25 years after the virus was identified, are women, youth and people of color. In fact, Native Americans and Alaskan natives rank third and fourth on the list, so in this area, surrounded by the Southern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Navajo and Jicarilla Apache reservations, the epidemic is strikingly close to home.
And for Native Americans, who often feel that just speaking about a disease invites it into their lives, education presents distinct challenges. To top it off, being of two spirits or homosexual, isnt just a sexual taboo but deeply ingrained in the culture.
So, Foley said, Native Americans are diagnosed with HIV or AIDS later and tend to die more quickly. Only 77 percent live more than three years, and only 66 percent live more than six years.
Foley is thrilled that President Barack Obamas administration is the first to have a national AIDS/HIV strategy, the first presidency since the epidemic was discovered to do so. Unfortunately, the communities his organization serves are mentioned only once in the 46-page document.
He challenged the Four Corners community, which has a history of organizing, to be all inclusive of everyone fighting the disease and to encourage everyone to get educated about how to avoid the virus, how to get tested and how to get access to the very pricey retrovirals that help infected people live longer, fuller lives.
A yummy dinner ended with a triple-chocolate-mousse cake with raspberry coulis. Joe Leder and Durango Liquor once again donated wine to accompany the meal.
Everyone jumped to their feet after the evenings entertainment, the Stillwater Foundations Advanced Steel Drum Band led by Steve Dejka.
There were a number of key sponsors, each of whom created some major swag bags as party favors. Sponsors included Rochester Hotel/Leland House, Mercury Payment Systems, Forrest Tool Co., AD Design, St. Marks Episcopal Church and a number of anonymous donors.
The 122 attendees helped raise more than $13,200, which mostly was split between Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains in Durango and The Western Colorado AIDS Project. Some went to Four Corners Gay and Lesbian Alliance for Diversity, which sponsors Colorado for Life, a gathering for anyone infected or affected by AIDS.
WestCAP helps people fighting either the virus or the full-blown disease with everything from living and medical expenses to advocacy and referrals. Both WestCAP and Planned Parenthood provide testing with money raised at the benefit.
A special mention should go to the organizing committee, Mark Wiechmann, Kathy Richardson, Greg Weiss, DianeMorazan and Hope Espinosa. All deserve credit, but special thanks go to Wiechmann, who chaired the event from 2003 to 2010.
b b b
Its only taken me a month, but heres an update on PhilipManns debut as musical director of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.
Classical music may be suffering a bit of a downturn, but in Little Rock, Mann is being treated as a rock star. Not only was there the video I wrote about a month ago, there were giant billboards with his face on them.
The welcome began at the box office when the symphony sold the most tickets ever for a performance.
His mother, Rochelle Mann, and stepfather, former Fort Lewis College President Joel Jones, traveled to Little Rock for the first concert, and said he got a standing ovation just for coming onto the stage. And that was just the start. The reviewer for a Little Rock newspaper has traditionally panned the orchestra so much so that the board already had written a letter to the editor to rebut the review. They didnt need to send it. The reviewer used words such as truly electrifying inaugural concert, delivering the piece (Dvoraks World Symphony) with care, precision and vigor and the Largo second movement, with the simple English horn theme that later turned into the semi-spiritual tune Going Home, was achingly beautiful.
To top it all off, Manns wife, pianist Tatiana Roitman, got her own rave review for her debut in Arkansas.
b b b
Im not a film reviewer, but Ive spent a lot of my life volunteering in some aspect of education. I think everyone parents, teachers, administrators, students, grandparents and anyone who cares about the future of our country should see Waiting for Superman, which is currently showing at the Gaslight Theatre. Were failing our kids, not just in the inner city or South, but across the country, and we all have a stake in doing better.
Volunteers from Animas High School are staffing a table at the theater for those who have questions about the charter school and its educational model.
b b b
For information about upcoming events and fundraisers, check Local Briefs.
Heres how to reach me: neighbors @durangoherald.com; phone 375-4584; fax 259-5011; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items. If you are submitting an item for preview, please send it with briefs in the subject line and e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.