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Strong Cultural Heritage Influences Local Lifestyles

Cultural Heritage Influences Local Lifestyles

By Joe Morris on August 4, 2014

Pueblo CO Ballet Folklorico

Thanks to mills and mines, Pueblo was an immigrant’s dream in the late 1800s, and the culture those settlers brought with them continue to define the region today. Whether it’s great food, exchange programs or even golf tournaments, Pueblo benefits greatly from its unique ethnic mix.

Italians Bring ‘Can-Do’ Attitude

Pueblo’s justifiably known for its great Italian restaurants, including Gus’s Place, an 81-year-old institution, La Tronica’s, another crowd-pleaser that’s been on the scene since 1943 and Gagliano’s Italian Market & Deli, which has been selling out of its homemade sausage since 1921. To work off some of that food, many duffers indulge in the Italian Invitational, a golf scramble that’s been going since 1981.

But the Italian community also has an ingrained sense of community development that has benefited the city, says Mike Salardino, a former city council member whose many philanthropic endeavors include helping to establish Pueblo’s sister-city relationship with Bergamo, Italy.

“We have many service organizations, such as the Sons of Italy and the Dante Alighieri Society,” Salardino says. “In the late 1970s, we lost two major employers. Even with those two hits we didn’t lose a lot of our population. That’s just our resilience. We all have a strong work ethic and ‘we can survive this’ attitude.”

Hispanic Immigrants Provide Colorful Heritage

Like other Pueblo settlers, the city’s Hispanic community also found ways to keep their native culture intact while also adapting and contributing to their new home.

One shining example is the Ballet Folklorico, a longtime entertainment staple that now has been set up as a student organization at Colorado State University-Pueblo, and unveiled new costumes during performances last spring. The troupe’s performances include dances from several Mexican states.

Slovenian Culture Is All About Support

Not to be outdone when it comes to food, music or just about anything else, Pueblo’s Slovenian community takes pride in its vibrant heritage here as well.

“In 1893, a lot of men came to America from Slovenia, and they made their way west to work in the steel mills,” says Rudy Krasovec, board chair of KSKJ Life, the American Slovenian Catholic Union. “They eventually sent back home for their wives, or for a bride, and soon there were a lot of families here.”

A community hub is Old Bojon Town, where you’ll find Eilers’ Place, a favorite pub since 1933. The brave of heart down shots of 80-proof Slivovitz plum brandy and gather for the Bojon Triathlon of bowling, horseshoes and darts in July.

The area’s also home to the Slovenian Heritage Center, a growing archive of Pueblo’s Slovenian history housed in a former school building attached to St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church.

“We always have a lot going on, whether it’s making sure our history is documented or working to provide college scholarships and host exchange students,” Krasovec says.

Yes, Pueblo has another sister city – Maribor, Slovenia.

“We had two sisters from Slovenia come to play in the Paper Cup tennis tournament in 2014, and in 2013, a Slovenian guy won it,” Krasovec says. “So yes, we’re still in the middle of what’s going on in Pueblo!”

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