FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The Fort Collins community celebrated the unveiling of a monument that honors Hispanic and Mexican sugar beet workers.
>> Video above: Group raising money for sculpture to honor sugar beet field workers
"Today is a historic day, and my heart is full, and I am so grateful for your support of the Hand That Feeds, honoring Hispanic and Mexican beet workers," said Betty Aragon-Mitotes.
Aragon-Mitotes began efforts to bring this monument to Fort Collins in 2019.
She began working with the city, other community organizations and the artist Frank Garza to create "The Hand That Feeds."
Aragon-Mitotes said this monument would preserve important history and the legacy of the Hispanic community in Fort Collins.
The celebration at Sugar Beet Park, where the monument was unveiled, included performances by Sol de Mi Tierra, Mariachi Alma de Folklore and Grupo Tlaloc Danza Azteca.
Frank Garza created the sculpture of a hand holding a short handled-hoe, which was a standard tool used by those working the beet fields.
Sculpture honoring beet field workers in Fort Collins unveiled
"I saw a picture of it and I thought, 'that's really significant'," said Gloria Balderrama, adding that her family came to the U.S. from Mexico and did back-breaking work in the fields. She said her mother began working in the beet fields after the eighth grade. Her father was a migrant worker and would travel across the United States for work. Her grandparents also worked the beet fields.
"It was very very hard work and you didn't get paid much."
Balderrama now owns one of the replicas as a way to honor her family's history.
"I don't think there was ever an appreciation, people never recognized the hardness of the work nor what the work did for us," she said. "If we wouldn't have those people out there, we wouldn't have the food that we have."
To help raise money to pay for the sculpture's completion, the nonprofit offered miniature replicas of the sculpture for donations of at least $500.
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