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How Gregorio Alcaro and Trinidad “Trini” Gonzalez — cousins whose family members started the Casa Mayan restaurant in Auraria in the 1930s and maintained it into the 1970s — managed to find a way to link their enduring family history to the approaching Democratic National Convention is a story almost too long to fit on this page. But when you consider that, as Alcaro maintains, the Casa Mayan “was the unofficial community center of the neighborhood,” a place where artists, musicians, politicians and poets in the community gathered and met, you begin to see how it all fits together. In that light, the Casa Mayan could be seen as an unofficial ongoing political convention. Then, too, there was the actual 1908 Democratic convention touting candidate William Jennings Bryan in Denver 100 years ago, held not far from where the Pepsi Center, on old Auraria land, now stands.

Somehow, they’ve made enough connections between the two to produce Celebrate 1908, a two-day festival of political and historical flashbacks peppered with performances, a Casa Mayan tour (the building still exists, in Auraria’s Ninth Street Park), a 1908 memorabilia exhibition, and forums that re-create the issues and arguments of that year. It all takes place today and tomorrow in the Tivoli Turnhalle on the Auraria campus as a benefit for Auraria Casa Mayan Heritage, an organization created by Alcaro and Gonzalez to preserve Auraria’s history and legacy. Fest events also include evening theater presentations, history lectures and a William Jennings Bryan Day proclamation by Mayor Hickenlooper; everything is covered by the $15 admission fee ($10 for seniors and students, $3 for children under twelve). For details, go to www.denver1908.org.
Fri., July 25; Sat., July 26, 2008

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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