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Elko’s Basque Festival wraps up with Sunday’s picnic


Elko Basque festival and running from the bulls (photo RossAnderson/ElkoDaily)
Elko Basque festival and running from the bulls (photo RossAnderson/ElkoDaily)


The 48th edition of Elko’s Basque National Festival took place over the 4th of July three-day-weekend. It was a special year as it brought back one of the festival’s favorites, the “Running from the Bulls”, which took place at the Fairgrounds and served as the Festival kick-off on Friday evening. People wearing T-shirts sporting the “Got Bulls” tagline could be seen all around town. This year’s theme was "Besarkada handi bat for our troops" (One Big Hug For Our Troops). Nicholas Beitia, member of the US Marines Corps and son of Elko’s Basque Club president, Fred Beitia, served as Grand Marshall. Locals and visitors alike enjoyed a variety of activities throughout the weekend, including a parade, Basque dancing, Basque games and competitions, jota and irrintzi contests, handball games, and of course, Basque food.

Boise, USA. This year’s festival was quite the hit among locals and visitors, thanks in part to the return of one of the festival’s favorites, the running from the bulls. The event took place at the Fairgrounds, where those brave enough had the opportunity to run in front of five bulls, brought from California by professional bullfighter Dennis Borba. Participants were required to sign a waiver and take a Breathalyzer test before entering the run. The younger crowd, ages 8 to 14, had a chance to experience the feeling the following day during a “Running from the Sheep” event.

Most of the activities took place on Saturday, starting with the 5K Run at 6:00 am, followed by the Parade at 10:00. People lined up along the streets of Elko, despite the heat. This year’s Grand Marshall was Nicholas G. Beitia an Elko native who joined the Marines after graduating from high school, and has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the son of Elko’s Basque Club president, Fred Beitia. Other parade participants were the local Basque dancing group Elko Arinak, and the Triskalariak Basque dancers, from Utah.

People headed to the Fairgrounds after the parade, where a variety of activities were planned from noon until six: dancing performances, a sheep dog competition, Basque sports competitions, the “Running from the sheep” for kids, and pelota games. Saturday Night Dance, featuring music by Chip Stone started at 9:00 pm and was the perfect end to a very fun day.

Sunday morning featured more pelota games at 9:00 am, and a sheepherder’s bread competition at 10:30. Mass was held at 11:00 at Elko’s City Park, followed by the annual Basque picnic. Several Elko residents, amongst them Biltoki Basque restaurant’s owner, Ramon Zugazaga, could be seen hard at work since the early morning, cooking away. Attendants enjoyed beef trip-tip and lamb stew, Basque beans, bread, paella, Basque salad, and dessert.

Dance exhibitions and Irrintzi and Jota contests closed the festival activities until next year.

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