Accordions, Maypoles and Wood Chopping: A Look At Reno's Basque Festival

Jul 17, 2016

Adult group dancers perform "Zinta Dantza", a sort of Maypole dance unique to the Basque tradition.
Credit Aishwarya Krishnamoorthy

This weekend, the 49th annual Basque Festival took over Wingfield Park in Reno.

Members of the Reno Basque Club organized the event, in which dozens of people donned their traditional Basque apparel and took part in cultural performances and competitions.

Emcee Alison Hull has been dancing since she was three.

“Many of the dances involve many of the things that happen in daily life, from working in the field to when the fishermen are out and the fisherwomen are dancing, waiting for their return," she says. "So it’s really that and celebrating a culture and celebrating the life of this community.”

A group of younger dancers performs a traditional Basque dance.
Credit Aishwarya Krishnamoorthy

Some people also participated in other activities which to some folks might not look like art. But as Hull says, it’s very much a part of Basque culture.

“Not only with dancing, they consider the wood chopping as well as the weightlifting as an art," she says. "Because it takes training and true passion.”

Jose Tellechea practices before the woodchopping competition, as Francisco Azpiroz looks on.
Credit Aishwarya Krishnamoorthy

Basque Americans hail from the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain, and have largely settled in the Western United States.

The festival drew in visitors and performers from other clubs around the region.

Check out our photo gallery highlighting the event. 

Ribbons wrapped around the high pole during the Zinta Dantza.
Credit Aishwarya Krishnamoorthy

A performer continues to dance after her shoe fell off.
Credit Aishwarya Krishnamoorthy
Accordionist Mercedes Mendive accompanies dance performances throughout the event.
Credit Aishwarya Krishnamoorthy

    

Performers fix up their outfits before going on stage.
Credit Aishwarya Krishnamoorthy
Parents and dance coaches congratulate children after a performance.
Credit Aishwarya Krishnamoorthy
John Gaylor lifts a 250-pound weight called an "Atlas stone" during the weightlifting competition.
Credit Aishwarya Krishnamoorthy
Wood chopping contestant Stephanie Braña makes progress during the competition.
Credit Aishwarya Krishnamoorthy
Remnants of the logs used in the wood chopping competition.
Credit Aishwarya Krishnamoorthy