This article was translated by John R. Bopp

On June 23, 2018, the first Basque Festival, organized by The New England Basque Club, will be held.  It’s hoping to become the event for Basques on the US East Coast.

Cartel del Basque Festival 2018 organizado por el New England Basque Club
Cartel del Basque Festival 2018 organizado por el New England Basque Club

The Basque Fest 2018 will celebrate Basque culture in New London, a very historical city founded in 1646, just 26 years after the landing of the Mayflower.  Plus, it’s a town that, during the 19th century, was home to a large whaling industry.

Throughout the day of the meetings, celebrations, and fun, there will be tons of Basque cuisine, dances, live music, rural sports, cartoons, parades, markets, cultural workshops, and sailing on a Basque batel.

The festival is open to the public, and the public’s active participation in the event is one of its distinguishing features.  In an effort to open the event to the broadest audience possible, almost all the events will be free.

A while back, in 2013, we found a map showing the locations of all the Basque festivals held throughout the US.  It was easy to see how the activity was concentrated in the western half of the country, with two exceptions: the New England Basque Club and the Washington club, holding their festivals on the East Coast.  As you can imagine, they don’t have the scope of their brothers out west.

But now it seems as if the members of the New England Basque Club are prepared to change that, and the event they’re organizing in New England will have a reach that matches the Basque presence back east.  They, who will also be in charge of the 2020 annual North American Basque Organizations event, which will host organizations from all over the US and Canada, are hoping that by then, this festival will be a renown success.

The promoters of the Rhode Island Basque Club:
Roberto Guerenabarrena and his peers, Kattalina, Trotixa, Mary, Txiflo, Ubille, Mertxe, Raul, Shannon, Aja, Napa, Meghan… and the late and well-remembered “Marti”, who won’t be able to enjoy this big Basque event, but who will be present.

We will not be at all surprised they get it, because their history is one of willpower and overcoming in order to create a group of people who are capable of preserving their traditions and grouping together all the Basques of that part of the US.

This center has its origins in a group of Basques who started meeting once a year at a Chinese restaurant they ended up calling Chino-Etxea.  Later, they decided to found the Rhode Island Basque Club, which held its most important annual celebration at Riki Lasa‘s sawmill, where they organized the Txitxiburduntzi Day, which joined hundreds of people together for a damn good amount of pork as well as all the sider necessary for good digestion, dancing, singing, and herri kirolak.

Basque Festival del Rhode Island Basque Club
Basque Festival of the Rhode Island Basque Club

From those festivals and amateur athletes grew a herri kirolak group that now takes those Basque traditions to Basque centers across North America, as well as participating in the Folklife Festival 2016 in Washington, where Basque culture was the featured guest.

The group grew and brought in more Basque from the area, and that’s when they decided to expand their focus and go from being the Rhode Island Basque Club to being the New England Basque Club, which is what they are today, and how they’re organizing this festival, which promises to become one of the big ones for the North American Basque community.

With this event, the Basque presence and reach will expand to the whole of the US, creating a new focus on the area where so far Basque culture had been going a bit under the radar.  Along with this, holding the festival will also undoubtedly be a catalyst to get more people with Basque roots in that part of the continent to decide to join in, and who knows where it could go from there.

New England Basque Club – 11/3/2018 – USA

New London Will Host the 2018 NEBC BasqueFest

The New England Basque Club will be hosting its biggest event to date. A Basque Festival in New London, Connecticut, filled with activities to celebrate our culture and rich history.

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