Latinas Took Over Aspen with Raizado Fest 2023

Photo by Kelsey Brunner/The Latinx House. Michael Kelley of Participant Media, Olga Segura of The Latinx House, Ivette Rodriguez, of AEM, and Cristina Escobar of LatinaMedia.Co

White folks don’t own Colorado. The narrative about the state may be rich, ski bunnies in elite enclaves like Aspen or Vail but 22% of Coloradans are Latino and there’s a strong Indigenous tradition there that dates back through the ages. It’s a state with lots of natural beauty and one that’s been pricing out its brown, Black, and Latinx population. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way – and The Latinx House’s Raizado Festival is providing a model of how to ignite that change. Organized by Latina leaders Mónica Ramírez and Olga Segura, the festival wrapped its second year earlier this week and I attended, part of a small press cadre including Tamarindo Podcast, Latina, and mitú (👋🏼 amigas).

The festival flew us out to Aspen (well, I drove), put us up in a downtown hotel, and invited us to the weekend’s many meals, panels, classes, and events. That may make me biased but it was thrilling to be taking up space with 250 other Latinas (there were a few guys there, I guess), effectively occupying Aspen with its Lululemon store, stunning vistas, and vibrant if largely invisible local Latinx community.

This was a fancy event done different. Take the food – it was curated by Chef Grace Ramirez. And while celebrity chefs may be normal at Aspen events, I’d wager Raizado is the only one where said Chef spoke at all the meals and brought out her team so they too could be recognized.

And that makes sense from the organizers of “The Humans Who Feed Us” campaign – Mónica Ramírez is also the founder of Justice for Migrant Women and a stalwart advocate for food chain workers – the ones our society would prefer to ignore rather than honor.

And that wasn’t the only way Raizado Fest nourished its guests – they also took care to promote a holistic version of health. For example, Latina author, dental hygienist, and health advocate Amber Lovatos got one of their icon awards for her work increasing oral health access. And our friends at Tamarindo led a morning wellness session, half boot camp, half mindfulness exercise (really, we did it all).

But, of course, LatinaMedia.Co was there for the media – the movies, storytellers, authors, and actors in attendance. And of that, the fest boasted many. Gloria Calderón Kellett led a masterclass on writing a compelling story. We brushed shoulders with stars like Wilmer Valderrama and Judy Reyes. And Jessica Marie Garcia rocked the stage, telling jokes about being a new mom, poor Spanish speaker, and strike enthusiast.

The festival also featured four feature films – Radical, With This Light, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, and Through the Night. They also screened the short film Giving Birth in America: California about a Mexican farmworker who seeks prenatal care from a clinic in California. Famed Latina director Patricia Riggin (remember when she was literally the ONLY Latina to have directed a top 100 film in 12 years?) was on hand to support it and Through the Night. The documentary filmmakers behind With This Light spoke with Dulce Vasquez, Assistant Vice President at Arizona State University and candidate for California State Assembly, about telling the story of how Sister Maria Rosa Leggol helped over 87,000 Honduran children escape poverty and violence.

Eugenio Derbez’s Radical is coming out October 20 having won Sundance (it literally got the audience award) and now backed by Participant Media who shared with me (on a panel in front of the likes of Carmen Perez of Women’s March fame) about their plans to take the message of the film – about the untapped potential of Latinx kids – out into the community.

And I got to spend a lot of quality time with Aitch Alberto, who wrote and directed the coming-of-age film Aristotle and Dante. It’s a powerful rumination on youth, El Paso, what it means to be queer, and love that’s hitting theaters September 8.

Throughout, we had a lot of conversations about the strike – about how to support actors and writers and about how frustrating it is that Latinx creatives who’ve waited years (in Aitch’s case, she’s been working on her film since 2014) can’t promote their projects to their best of the abilities, about how we need the community now more than ever.

Add in a fashion show, a public appearance by Los Lobos, and a ton of Spanish, and Raizado certainly seemed to bring a different vibe to Aspen. This was an event about celebrating Latinx culture, honoring those who feed us, and agitating for a more just world in a town that is used to not thinking about Latinxs at all. It felt good, taking up that space, together and in good company.

Missed this year’s events? Check out The Latinx House’s Facebook livestream to watch panels, performances, and more.

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