Friday I went down to the Basque block to meet a friend for lunch. While we had a nice time, it was very hot and there was no shade and very little seating. After we ate I didn’t stick around for the music or to look at the merchandise table, as I knew I would have even more of that on Saturday at the Expo. However, I did take a few pics.
Saturday morning I got up early so I could head down to the Expo. Even though I got there shortly after they opened, I had to park pretty far out in the lot, so I knew that there were already quite a few people there. When I walked up to the entrance the first thing I saw was the huge banner welcoming Jaialdi and the crowds of people waiting to get in.
Once inside, I was greeted by the site of wagons or Karro Kampo. Most of the wagons were organized pretty similarly on the inside with the bed against the back and built in storage underneath. Some included a table that folds up from the side of the bed. Most had a small bench for seating and a stove for cooking. The materials used varied quite a bit. Some were made with wood and metal, others had laminate floors.
It was interesting to chat with the owners of these wagons and also to listen to conversations of the people around me. I spoke with members of the family that owns Gypsy Cowgirl and Rancho Maxo (yes, each one has its own name) and they told me that they still use these wagons today. They can be pulled by either horse or truck as they’re built with both types of hitches and they mainly use them for 5-6 day camping trips. I also heard observers talking about the Laquierica Brothers. They had known the family and were explaining to the people they were with about their move to the United States. It was one of the only wagons that had a poster board with the history of the family. I glanced at it, but didn’t need to read it in detail as everything I overheard was correct. My favorite comment though was from people talking about how the Basque community should really start working in the current tiny house movement since they already have it all figured out!
After perusing the wagons, I was so hot that I had to go inside for a bit. They had two main stages set up and I tried to go to the larger of the two, the Red stage, only to find that all the seats were already full and that people were crowded in between the bleachers in every place that was standing room only. As I’m only 5 feet tall it was impossible for me to see anything. I took these pictures by holding the camera as high as I could over my head.
And this one from a spot I finally managed to nestle myself into behind the stage.
I also saw Irrintzi, the giant dancing band, in the back corner and managed to grab a photo of them.
Since I couldn’t see much on the Red stage, I went over to the Green stage. I had about 25 minutes before the next group started so it wasn’t too crowded, but I figured I’d better go ahead and get a seat. I ended up watching Herribatza Dantzariak from Homedale and it was a delight. There a few different age groups that performed dances. The little kids were absolutely adorable.
After the dancing I was starving so I decided to go get in line for some food. I enjoyed more croquetas and chorizo (same thing I’d eaten on Friday, because really, you can never have too many croquetas.) The prices were really decent; my meal below with a soda was $12. Not too bad considering I had two entrees.
While I’d been watching the dancers, one of the guys running the food tents came in to chat with friends and family. As I was sitting right in front of them I heard him explaining to them that they’d made 45,000 croquetas for Jaialdi and were expecting to run out by the end of day. They were discussing making another 8,000-10,000 that night so that they’d have some to sell on Sunday. If you’ve ever made croquetas from scratch, you know that they are time consuming. I don’t know if they were able to do it, but I’m guessing that they didn’t get much sleep that night.
After my wonderful food, I decided it was time to step back indoors for a bit, so I checked out the merchandise market. There were a lot of photographs, jewelry, books on the history of the Basque people and Basque shirts for sale. There was also a stand with sheep skin and another that had a machine where people could look up ancestry information. I was very pleased to see that Be the Match, a registry of potential marrow donors, had a table. They are an amazing organization that tries to educate about the importance of having donors from different ethnic groups as some of these smaller populations can be particularly difficult to find matches for. I also enjoyed the last row in the market which had all of the posters and information from the Basque museum. Here you can see people looking at the photographs of Basques who came to Boise; some were looking to see if there was anyone they knew, others were looking for specific family members.
In the afternoon they had more sporting events, but I didn’t stay that long, as I’d already been to Sports Night. But here are some photos of the equipment that was set up.
I have to say, that after 3 days of attending events, Basque-ing at the Expo was definitely my favorite. In the future, if people have limited time or can only attend one event, I highly recommend that they check this out as they can get a little bit of everything, all in one fantastic day.
I feel very fortunate to live in a place where we have such a strong Basque community and I can enjoy the culture, history, music and food year round. I have no idea where I’ll be five years from now, but if I’m still in Boise, I will definitely take another couple days off work and enjoy all the festivities over an extended weekend.