Rhythmic tunes and the patter of dancing feet will reverberate from the Basque block (on Grove St. between 6th and Capitol streets), as thousands of people are expected to gather on Saturday, August 1, for the annual San Inazio Festival. It is a free event put on by the Euzkaldunak (Boise's Basque organization) and one that draws a sizable crowd. Originally the annual affair was conceived to honor St. Ignatius of Loyola, the patron saint of the Basque people, but has since evolved into an occasion to celebrate Basque history and traditions.
"It is a weekend to gather together Basques and non-Basques alike and to celebrate their culture," said Patty Miller, museum director for the Boise Basque Museum and Cultural Center. "Besides having a good time, it is a local festival that shares being Basque with the community."
Although it is predominately those born-and-raised in Idaho who gather together, the celebration does draw in visitors from across Idaho and neighboring states. And with such an extensive schedule of activities, it's not surprising that many travel far and wide to attend.
Currently, Basque communities worldwide are undergoing revivals of their culture. This is due in large part to the increased interest in the ethnicity from younger Basque generations. Summer festivals are a long-standing tradition of the Basques; they offer an opportunity to reunite with their fellow Basques and to reconnect with their culture while teaching their friends and neighbors a little something about it as well.
"Basquing on the Grove" begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, and the Basque block will be filled with traditional food, games, music, and dance. Local Basque musicians kick off the event with some traditional music, followed childrens group, the Boiesko Gazteak Basque Dancers, at noon. Then at 1 p.m., the Txantxangorriak Basque Musicians perform, using traditional Basque instruments such as the txalaparta. John Vergara's weight lifting exhibition begins at 2 p.m. and the Oinkari Basque Dancers perform at 2:30 p.m. The txinga (weight carrying) and soka tira (tug-of-war) exhibitions begin at 3:30 p.m., and at 4 p.m., both men and women compete in the pala finals—a Basque racquet ball game. A bolatoki—outside bowling alley—is available for play throughout the day. Everything wraps up at around 5 p.m. to prepare for the evening's festivities.
St. John's Cathedral offers Catholic mass from 7-8:30 p.m., and those who attend are in for a treat, as the Biotzetik Basque choir will sing throughout the service and the Onati Dantza Taldea will present a liturgical dance. Back on the Basque block, the street dance, one of the main highlights to the festival, begins at 9 p.m. as the Txantxangorriak Basque Musicians perform round-two of their performance. And from 10 p.m.-1 a.m., Boise band Amuma Says No plays the night away.
One of the best parts of any festival, especially a Basque one, is the food, and the booths set up along the Basque block promise traditional eats such as chorizos, solomo, croquetas and various other delights. Beer and wine will be available as will shaved ice for those in need of a refreshing indulgence.
The festival picks up again on Sunday, August 2, at 10 a.m. with a 5K "Run for the Basques" at Municipal Park. Following is a lunch with more games and activities. And then from 7-11 p.m., Amuma Says No once again turns the Basque block into a big dance party.
With so much to do and see, it wouldn't be a surprise if you walk away San Inazio Festival feeling a little bit more Basque.
For more information, visit www.basquecenter.com.