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.
Elko Basque Club
P.O. Box 1321
Elko, NV 89803
775-738-9957; fax: 775-738-5525
GdUSFest-1984, p. 112
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Elko, Nevada, 37th National Basque Festival. One of the biggest and best fests opens with a music and dance exhibition and includes an old-fashioned small-town parade, athletic contests, dance contests, barbecue, public dance, and mass.
Elko celebrates this heritage June 30 and July I and 2 with its 26th National Basque Festival.

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