OUTSIDE IN — Colfax immigrant fest brings far-away near on Saturday

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AURORA | The Aurora Cultural Arts District is offering proverbial tickets around the globe in the coming months — all from the comfort of a converted police substation on Dallas Street.

The ACAD is launching a new festival series this summer and fall intended to showcase the array of cultures and ethnicities that call north Aurora home.

The Colorado Immigrant Festival, or “ImmiFest,” is scheduled to be held at the ACAD gallery at 1400 Dallas St. the last Saturday of each month through the end of October. Entirely free of charge, each mini festival will showcase food, music, performances and art tied to a distinct regional or continental culture. The first festival, scheduled for July 22, will center on various African cultures, while the following gatherings will highlight traditions from Southeast Asia, Mexico and the Caribbean.

“(ZIP Code) 80010 is one of the most diverse ZIP Codes in the region,” Tracy Weil, executive director of the ACAD, said in a statement. “Our goal is to showcase the inspiring cultural knowledge and art the immigrant communities bring to America from their homelands. It’s time we celebrate our immigrant and refugee communities and support their traditions and expression.”

The city’s northwestern Ward I, which encompasses ZIP Code 80010, is the poorest, youngest and most diverse neighborhood in Aurora, according to the city’s 2016 demographic report. More than 16,000 of the area’s some 46,000 residents were born outside of the United States, according to the city data, and about 57 percent of the residents in Ward I identified as Hispanic — about twenty percent more than any other ward in the city. The average age in the area is slightly older than 30 years old, and the median income in 2015 was $34,676, according to the city’s report.

Satya Wimbish, president of the ACAD board of directors, said she’s optimistic the new events will serve as an ongoing tractor beam for the corridor along East Colfax Avenue.

“We’re going to have something going on all summer … So it’s nice we’re able to provide some ongoing activity and slowly create ways to integrate the community and (do) what people have asked for,” Wimbish said last month.

During each bijou festival, artists selected to participate in the Acadia Project, a new effort to help promote the artwork of immigrant and refugee artists in Aurora, will have their work prominently displayed, according to a press release. Started earlier this year as a collaborative effort between the ACAD and a pair of other non-profit agencies, the program helps artists new to America leverage their skills by providing materials, self-marketing strategies and business acumen. The program received $10,000 early in its development from the Denver Foundation, Bob Hagedorn, president of the ‘Fax Aurora Business League, said earlier this year. Both ‘Fax Aurora and the Community Enterprise Development Services partnered with the ACAD to help develop the novel program.

Organizers in the arts district are still looking for vendors for each upcoming festival. Booths cost $50, according to a press statement. Interested individuals should visit auroraculture.org for more information.

Colorado Immigrant Festival

10 a.m. – 6 p.m. July 22, ACAD Gallery, 1400 Dallas St. Future festivals will be held at the same time and location on the fourth Saturday of each month: Aug. 26, Sept. 23 and Oct. 28. The event is free. Visit auroraculture.org or visit the ACAD Facebook page for more information.