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Create Chico Palio Horse

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 5:01 PM

Letter: Create a Palio horse and create memories

Chico Enterprise-Record
POSTED:   08/18/2014 08:24:28 AM PDT

Create a Palio horse and create memories

Chico Palio — the kickoff to Artoberfest — occurs from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, at Sycamore Field and One-Mile Recreation Area in Bidwell Park. Financial cuts to arts and culture groups compelled me to write about the little-understood social benefits of cultural activity.

When Upstate Community Enhancement Foundation — popularly known as "Friends of the Arts" — started Chico Palio nine years ago, the concept was to engage the public with an art-centered event and bring people together. Over the years, 140 horse sculptures have been created, involving 10-12 schools each year and dozens of nonprofit groups and businesses. We've given $4,500 back to community performers (everyone gets paid — it's not much but symbolizes the value of live performance). And we created a Chico tradition. Today, twenty-somethings — some with nose rings and tattoos — are beginning to relay Palio memories.

"I made a horse one year and ran another. It was crazy and fun," said a young musician who now attends an out-of-town college.

Another said, "I discovered I liked working with my hands (as I made the horse)."

It's difficult to gauge the impact of a cultural activity but we need shared experiences; it's what makes a community a community. Why not make a Palio horse with family, friends or neighbors? Get to know the people next door and create memories. Think of Chico Palio as a creative Neighborhood Watch campaign. I believe Arts + Culture = community and ultimately provide an economic and social return on investment.

— Debra Lucero, Chico