National Basque Festival

Basque Festival, National

First weekend in July
A sports-music-dance-barbecue celebration of Basque heritage, held annually since 1962 in Elko, Nev. Basque people settled in the West, largely in Nevada and Idaho, in the late 1800s, many becoming shepherds and sheep ranchers.
Participants in the festival wear the traditional red, white, and green of the Basque provinces of Spain. The men also wear the traditional Basque beret.
The festival begins on Friday with social and exhibition dancing. On Saturday there's a parade of more than 50 floats, and major contests of weightlifting, sheep hooking (sheep are hooked with a crook, dragged to a designated spot, and tied by one leg), sheepdog-working, yelling, and dancing the native jota . Each year, there is also a three-event contest of log chopping, weightlifting, and a strength-and-endurance event in which contestants race to pluck each of 30 beer cans (they were ears of corn in the old country) from a line and deposit them in a trash can.
Some years, when contestants from Spain are present, there are pentathlons—five-event contests that largely involve lifting, dragging, and walking with enormous weights (for example, a 1,200-pound granite slab is dragged).
On Sunday, the events wind up with a big barbecue of steak, marinated lamb, and spicy sausages called chorizo . Music and dancing are important parts of the festival, and bertsolaris, troubadours, entertain with song improvisations in the Basque language.
Another Nevada Basque festival is in Reno in July. The Gooding, Idaho, Basque club holds its annual Basque Association Picnic in July.
CONTACTS:
Elko Basque Club
P.O. Box 1321
Elko, NV 89803
775-738-9957; fax: 775-738-5525
www.elkobasque.com
SOURCES:
GdUSFest-1984, p. 112
References in periodicals archive ?
Saturday's program will spotlight Elko, "The Last Real Cowboy Town in America" and home of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and the National Basque Festival.
The red, white, and green Basque flag snaps in the summer breeze over the fairgrounds in Elko, Nevada, as the annual National Basque Festival gets under way to the lively beat of a tambourine.
Elko, home of the National Basque Festival, will present authentic Basque dancers and an eye-catching display of spurs from J.

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