In Idaho, a festival about all things Basque -- dancing, food and, of course, weight lifting


Dressed in traditional garb, Boise’s Oinkari Basque Dancers will perform at the 2015 Jaialdi.

(Trevor and Amy Arana)

You don’t need to speak Euskera to enjoy the unique Basque culture during an upcoming festival in Boise, Idaho.

That said, there will be plenty of people speaking the mother tongue at Jaialdi, a gathering that takes place every five years. It will be July 28 to Aug. 2 at venues throughout Boise.

Idaho boasts the nation’s largest population of people with roots in the Basque country, a region along the Spanish-French border. Boise even has a booming preschool, Boiseko Ikastola, at which children are immersed in the Euskera language and culture.

On July 30, Sports Night, one of the most popular events, will showcase displays of physical prowess. The endeavors include hay bale lifting, oxcart carrying and wood chopping.


Weight lifters will travel from the Basque homeland to demonstrate their strength as they lift stone balls weighing 350 pounds and cylinders weighing as much as 400 pounds. Also, teams will compete in soka-tira, the Basque version of tug-of-war.

The event will begin at 7 p.m. at the CenturyLink Arena. Tickets cost $15.

Festa’ra, a celebration of traditional music and dance, will be at 7 p.m. July 31 at the Morrison Center. The performers will include Boise troupes skilled in the dance styles of the old country. Tickets cost $35.

Events will be staged throughout Boise, but the festival’s heart will remain downtown, along the Basque Block. It’s one block along which restaurants, a market, a museum and a cultural center all embrace Basque traditions. Block parties, food vendors and street dances will add to the atmosphere.


The full schedule of activities is available online.

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