“Winnewhat?”

Winn-e-macca

This is how I could summarize my first contact with natives of Winnemucca, Humboldt state in northern Nevada. I guess they forgave my deficient pronunciation thanks to the fact that we were in a relaxing setting, surrounded by Basque-Americans at the Ormaechea’s Basque Restaurant bar.

“You will improve that after a Picon, buddy!”

(By Iñigo Medina Gracia. Photo credit Benan Oregi)

Our main purpose was to attend as guests the 40thAnnual Basque Festival and the NABO Summer Convention (main meeting for the North American Basques Clubs) in Winnemucca on Saturday, 8th of June. This time, the club delegates came from all over the USA (states of California, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and even Washington D.C. were represented). Assistants were called to follow the development of main programs ran by the federation chairs. They analyzed the organization’s developments over the past five months, designed and approved future projects, and voted for internal presidential elections. Philippe Acheritogaray from San Francisco’s BCC was elected as new NABO president. Incumbent president Annie Gavica from Boise Basque Museum became Vice-President. Mayi Petracek from Colorado was ratified as Treasurer, and our partner at the CBS Kate Camino from Reno became the new Secretary (Zorionak Kate!).

As guests, we had the chance to mention some of the projects we are running currently.

Basque librarian Iñaki Arrieta gave an introduction about the project carried out by the CBS and the Basque Library, which is located in the UNR. He underlined the work homed by this entity, and mentioned the Library’s vision of acquisitions as a memory and research portal institution focused on Basque Culture and Basque Diaspora. The mission of the Jon Bilbao’s Basque Library is the world’s leading academic library on Basque Diaspora primary focused in North America. Its duty as institution is to develop a collection of Basque resources, preserve the documentary heritage of the Basque Diaspora in the US, and serve as research portal in English to memory institutions. Inaki reported the importance of various current donations done by several individuals (Anita Anacabe, Cengotitabengoa Family or Linda Dufurrena), including the recent donation of Frank Bergon as an incentive for other Diaspora members who could contribute to enrich the Archives. A new digital management system with different repositories designed by the UNR was also presented.

Basque Government’s representative Benan Oregi, mentioned the recent programs they are offering within the Diaspora and also in the Basque Country. Presented projects were  ”Gaztemundu” program and “Euskal Herria: huge migration territory”. This last testing pilot project focused on bringing a current approach and wide scoop perspective about the historical importance of Basque Diaspora oriented to high school students in Euskal Herria. Summer courses ran by the Directorate for the Basque Community Abroad in Azkoitia during 12 and 13 of July, were also mentioned. The leitmotiv of the summer courses this time will be “Migration and Mobility within the Basque Community Abroad”. I was also presented in plenum as assistance and management interlocutor between the Basque Government and the North American Basque Clubs.

After 7pm, Ardi Beltza dancers from Ruby Mountain performed their “Etxea: Memoirs of Gernika”, an emotive representation about the bombing of Gernika during the Spanish Civil War. The performance featured the recently published “The Bombing of Gernika, A Short History”, written by Dr. Xabier Irujo and published by the CBS. The book narrates“the decision of the fascist forces to attack the open city, (…) the horror of the bombing, (…)  its aftermath,and (…) the terrible events that colored not only the modern history of the Basques, but of all of humanity as it ushered in a new age of warfare.”

After dinner, the Basque-American band “Amerikanuak” made the night enjoyable with their concert in the surrounding area of the Ormaechea’s Restaurant. Assistants had a good time and did not waste the chance to dance typical and popular Basque songs until midnight.

Next morning at 8am, the brave participants in the Festival ran (some of us just walked) the 5K run proposed by the organization. It was a nice chance to burn the delicious and generous dinner offered the night before at Ormaechea’s, one of the two Basque restaurants settled in Winnemucca. After that, everything was ready for the scheduled parade along the city. Assistants held a wake over to ensure themselves a strategic position in both sides of the West Winnemucca Blvd in order to guarantee the best chance for picking up the sweets that the parade participants were going to throw.

At 12am, the opening ceremonies took place at Nixon Lawn where the dancing performances started while the requests to participate in the Basque sporting events were open. Two bars with beverages and Txorizo sandwiches offered the assistants a nice way to season the combination of warm weather, friendly atmosphere and open Basque culture. The first floor of the East Center of Winnemucca’s Convention Center was fulfilled by several stands of vendors that mixed Basque thematic items and Western crafts. The visitors also had the opportunity to visit an historical exhibit about the Basque Country provided by the Boise Basque Museum, get involved into AISA Euskara courses and purchase the varied publications on Basque themes edited by CBS that our partner Daniel Montero was featuring there.

At 1.30pm, a typical Basque lunch was offered to all participants. The menu included salad, beans, lamb stew, bread, steak and dessert. The afternoon agenda was fulfilled with the Txerriki sausage show off and paella exhibition and sale at 5,30pm. After dining at the iconic Basque Martin Hotel, we topped it all with the dance at West Hall of the Convention Center. The bands Decoy, Amerikanuak and Ardi Beltza performed, and created a festive atmosphere until midnight.

Sunday morning held no pessimistic feelings but fraternity and holy joy at 9am during the Basque Catholic mass offered at the Winnemucca Convention Center. After the homily, participants gathered at the West Hall to have a marvelous Basque breakfast of tripota, jamon, chorizo, eggs, potatoes and bread. The Basque dance competition awards were announced, which marked the end of a marvelous festival in Winnemucca. Or should I say “Winn-e-macca”?