It’s all about the tortillas. And family.
For many years, Inez Ontiveroz shared her love of cooking Mexican food with the Lovell community, organizing an annual taco fundraiser for her church, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
But, like all good things, the popular taco fundraiser at St. Joseph’s came to an end more than a decade ago. However, Inez and her family came together four years ago to organize a successful fundraiser for her grandson, Austin Ontiveroz of Laramie.
Inez will again “come out of retirement” to organize another fundraiser for Austin. The latest taco fundraiser will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, July 31, at the Lovell Fire Hall. Austin, a Metro State student in Denver, is majoring in business administration, with a minor in Spanish. He is the son of Liz and Milton Ontiveroz of Laramie.
Austin plans to strengthen his Spanish-speaking skills by studying abroad for a full semester in spring 2016 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. To help defray expenses for tuition and travel costs, Inez will assist her grandson with the Lovell taco feed.
“I have always stressed to our own children, and now our grandchildren, that an education is a way to get ahead in life,” Inez said. “My husband, Milt, and I were migrant field workers when we first came to Lovell in the early 1940s, and we didn’t have those same opportunities. We saw education for our children as a way to better themselves. My family, and the families of my own sisters and brothers, have all stressed going to school.”
Inez said Lovell residents have always been supportive of past taco fundraisers, whether it was for St. Joseph’s or the first fundraiser for Austin. She said the secret to the fundraisers’ successes has always been her family’s homemade tortillas. Lovell residents can expect the same home-style cooking on Friday.
“The art of making real homemade Mexican food is fading, I’m afraid,” Inez said. “But, in our family, it has never been lost. Our children, grandchildren, and now, even our great-grandchildren, are being taught the traditional dishes my mother and grandmother taught us.”
Especially tortilla-making. It has been passed on from each generation, she said.
Inez still makes homemade tortillas on a regular basis, and said she will contribute tortillas to the latest fundraiser, along with her sisters Ruth Montanez, of Cowley, and Lupe Hernandez, of Powell; her daughter Anna Fink, of Lovell; and daughters-in-law Liz (Milton) and Becky (Mike), granddaughter Alexis Ontiveroz and even her great-grandchildren Jordan and Aly Klemt, all from Laramie. Inez’s children Cec Moats, of Cheyenne, and Mike Ontiveroz, of Laramie, are making homemade salsa for the event.
“As you can see, whenever our family gets together for a special occasion, we all pitch in where needed,” Inez said. “We all share the love of cooking.”
Also at the fundraiser, raffle tickets for several items will be sold at the door. Among the items to be raffled are two Denver Broncos photographs taken by Inez’s grandson AAron Ontiveroz, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist for The Denver Post. He photographs the Broncos on a regular basis during the NFL season for The Post. Other items will be University of Wyoming gear and a pair of UW Cowboys home football game tickets.
“I still get asked quite a bit about when I will serve tacos again, but I’ve retired from doing it on an annual basis,” Inez said. “But this is a special occasion, and I hope we have a good turnout again. I want to say thank you to the Lovell community for always supporting us.”
By Milton D. Ontiveroz