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Cortez Cultural Center

At its conception, the Cortez Cultural Center was designed to showcase the rich historical and cultural resources this area has to offer. As it begins its 25th year, it has filled that role admirably and grown into a busy place with numerous programs that entertain and enlighten visitors and locals alike.

The Center was founded by a group of local residents, many of them University of Colorado alumni. Support for the center was broad. For the first few years, CU contributed both financially and with traveling exhibits and programs. Fred and Nancy Thomas contributed the use of the building for the first three years, and after an intense fundraising effort, the Center became the official owner.

Thanking people by name is always dangerous, so we encourage everyone to stop by the center and learn more about the people responsible for this wonderful community attraction, but besides the Thomases, a few stand out:

Buford Wayt painted the pueblo moral on the north side of the building. Besides being a significant cultural resource in itself, it is a testament to Wayt’s talent and community spirit. It also helps to create support for the city’s mural program.

The mural on the south side, funded by Bob Maynes in memory of his wife, Traute, recognizes another aspect of local culture, the Mexican-American community.

For many years, Patsy Brown has coordinated the volunteers who staff the center, first among her circle of retired teachers and then throughout the community. Without them, the experience of visitors would be far less meaningful, and it’s hard to imagine how the Center would have survived without Patsy’s encouragement and persistence.

Jack Hawkins donated the land which became the Hawkins Preserve.

Numerous other board members and volunteers have worked tirelessly to build support, raise funds, attract members, fix the building, create exhibits and programs

For a nonprofit organization to thrive for 25 years is a notable accomplishment on its own, but for an organization to do so much to further the understanding of local “culture,” which spans such a broad spectrum, is a laudable contribution indeed.

The Cortez Cultural Center provides a place for the many fascinating people of this area to share their knowledge and their skills with one another. Over the years, the range of speakers, programs and exhibits has been truly astounding.

Visitors can learn about the history of this region’s people, from the earliest inhabitants through the conquistadors and the pioneers, as well as about natural history. They can view, and purchase, local arts and crafts. The Center has hosted Indian dances, dramatic programs, awards ceremonies, festivals and fundraisers for other organizations. The Center also has provided a draw into downtown Cortez that benefit local businesses well into the evening in the summer.

Other organizations do some of these same things, but the Cultural Center does them all, and does them well. It is an unparalleled asset for Cortez.

Attend the celebration on Saturday. There will be cake and ice cream and a book signing at 4 p.m., and a panel discussion of the Center’s history at 5. Buy a membership while you’re there. This worthwhile organization deserves the community’s support.

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