New London, CT. It was the first Basque Festival held in New London, and it passed with straight As. The beginning of the day did not bode well in relation to the weather, rain had been forecast, but except for a light drizzle in the beginning, the weather cooperated, overcast but no rain. This was perfect for all of the exhibitions dance, sports, music etc. in the main tent as well as in the small amphitheater in the open-air plaza.
New London is a city united to the oldest British history in this part of the United States. New London is in fact the capital of the region, or broader region known as New England comprised of six states. It is known as the City of Whales because of tis whaling past, a point in common with the Basques. The Basques that are part of the New England Basque Club are distributed throughout the area, but not necessarily in New London. After holding many Basque parties in private spaces for its members, they decided to make a leap and organize a larger public event, sharing the culture with their American neighbors including music, gastronomy and how Basques have fun. Everybody knew that New England was the perfect headquarters to do so.
This is in fact the club’s goal, as most clubs in general, to perpetuate the culture and Basque ways for new generations, and to share it with their American neighbors, as one more culture and nation that has constructed and contributed to the melting pot.
A good number of the founders of the New England Basque Club (formerly known as the Rhode Island Basque Club) were pilotaris who came to the states to play at the kantxas in the area. When these closed, some returned to the Basque Country and others, who already had families and children born there, decided to stay, those who founded the club.
Last Saturday, they took an important step towards the club’s mission, and it was a complete success. They shared music, food, sports and good humor, along with their way of life with others in New Engliand. That is what they did on Saturday.
The day began with a parade, with all the dantzaris, musicians, authorities, etc. from the New London City Hall to the Parade Plaza. At the plaza they raised the US flag and the Ikurriña and the mayor, Michael Passero, addressed those present with a warm welcome, and acknowledging that this was the first Basque festival that the city had ever seen.
Afterwards, the festivities began with trikitixa music, song, dance performances by groups who travelled to the event form Chino, CA, San Francisco, CA and Lamoille, NV, aizkolaris, txinga-eroaleak (weight carriers), and herri kirolaris (popular sport people), food with pintxos from Basque restaurants, and paella from experts from Florida and New York.
The mayor reaffirmed in the afternoon, his request that this festival become an annual event, and part of the city’s calendar of events. The Basques agreed.
Zorionak to the organizers, members of the Euskal Etxea, Basques who traveled from all over the country and the attendees in general because thanks to everyone, this event was a total success.
(Complete chronicle with photo gallery coming later this week)