Upcoming food and cultural festival in Globeville spotlights 120 years of history
While researching the Orthodox Food Festival & Old Globeville Days for Mile High on the Cheap, I found out that the Globeville section of Denver is a 120-year-old community with deep roots in Eastern Europe. Located in the shadow of the elevated sections of Interstate 70, it is mainly known as the site of of the National Western Stock Show complex.
Globeville might not have gotten much respect in recent times, but its history is long by Western standards and represents a tapestry of the American experience. Immigrants from Russia, Poland, Romania, Serbia Ukraine and Greece settled there and found community through the shared Eastern Rite religion. Later, they were joined and often replaced by people from such different places Mexico and Eritrea, and African-Americans too. Workers lived in the neighborhood was an important part of Denver’s industrial landscape, and when industry and commerce changed and when Interstates 70 and 25 were routed by it, Globeville suffered. But as happens so often, houses of worship that cannot easily be moved provided a bit of a counterweight through good times and bad times.
According to Father Joseph Hirsch of the Holy Transfiguration of Christ Orthodox Cathedral, “since Globeville’s incorporation as a town and subsequent annexation into the City and County of Denver, there has been a Summer celebration of some kind or another. For most of that time, the main Homecoming event has been the annual Picnic held by the 109-year-old [now 110] Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Cathedral. In recent years, the District Attorney of Denver, Bill Ritter, now Governor of Colorado, promoted a Globeville Community Day which positively impacted the neighborhood but did not involve much participation from those outside of the neighborhood. In 2004, the Orthodox Community agreed to combine the Annual Orthodox Picnic with the Community Days celebration and to provide a free public celebration both for the residents and friends of Globeville as well as an opportunity to reach out to and inform the entire Front Range.”
And that’s what’s coming up on Saturday, July 18, 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Sunday, July 19, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. when the the sixth annual Orthodox Food Festival & Old Globeville. Admission is free to this event that will feature ethnic foods, music, folk dancing international crafts and for the first time, an art show. There will also be inside tours of the historic and elaborate cathedral, which from the outside looks like a modest church. “Boogie Under the Stars” takes place Saturday evening from 7:30 to 9:30.
9News’ Susie Wargin, whose own Denver pioneer heritage is anchored in old Globeville, wrote, “Inside St. Joe’s, beautiful stained glass windows align the east and west walls. However there is one window on the west side, featuring the mother Mary with her mother, that shows exactly where I came from. My great, great grandfather Jan Wargin’s name adorns the bottom of the stained glass. The word in my family is Jan was a founding member of St. Joseph’s and helped fund construction while working at the Globe Smelting and Refining Company. It’s a church that has always been very special to our family even though we are all in different locations now.”
In the classic American tradition, some stalwarts like Father Hirsch, members of the Globeville Civic Association and Margaret and Robert Escamilla, the successful plaintiffs in Escamilla vs. ASARCO that has been called a landmark victory for environmental justice never give up on their community and just when a neighborhood is thought to be down and out, it is “discovered” by artists and urban pioneers who appreciate history, diversity and low prices, and the process of renewal begins. Globeville is on the rise. New sidewalks, undergrounded utility lines, zoning changes that favor local businesses and other quality-of-life enhancements are in place. The first major sign of gentrification is the multi-use TAXI development, an ambitious project whose first phase includes 43 residential lofts with 130,000 square feet of commercial and office space on an 18-acre site. Globeville’s new second identity is RiNo (RIver NOrth), and the incipient arts district.
The festival is in large part a tribute to those who held on and made a historic community better, and all are invited to help celebrate. The event appropriately will take place at the Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Cathedral and Globeville-Argo Park at 47th and North Logan, Denver. For more information, call 303-294-0938.
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