Smithsonian Folklife Festival

This year’s Folklife Festival featured the Basque culture, including demonstrations of dancing, singing, sports, and boat-building.

The dancing included traditional dancing, contemporary dance, and the characters used in the dancing:





Joaldunak Procession


Basque dancing.



Some of the dancers were from a young California dance troupe, here waiting to go on stage:

Basque dancing.

Basque dancing.

The rural sports demonstrated included an anvil lift.  The object was to do 100 lifts, touching a 10-kilo anvil to the base and then the top plate. The winner was a man doing it solo, in 1 minute 41 seconds. The women did it in teams of two, trading off after each 25 lifts, and were a few seconds slower than the man.


There was a sandbag run, carrying a 40 kilo sandbag.


The sawing contest was very interesting since it required strength and speed but also finesse – they had to cut 6 slices that were no wider than 3 cm each, which they managed to accomplish in just under 3 minutes.


There were several craftsmen demonstrating boat-building techniques.  In the 16th century, the Basques were considered the best whalers, using a small boat called a txalupa.  A model of a txalupa was brought to the festival in a partially-finished state, and was worked on during the festival.


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