Iñigo Urkullu, president of the Basque Country, met with Gov. Butch Otter and other state officials today to discuss collaboration between Idaho and the Basque Country, as Urkullu kicked off a five-day visit to Boise for Jaialdi, an international Basque festival that’s drawn thousands of visitors including many Basques from surrounding states and Europe.
"Boise is the city outside of the Basque Country where the presence and Basque influence, both in politics and in culture, are felt the strongest," Urkullu said. “The cultural affinity, knowledge and respect for the Basques in Boise make this place an outstanding platform for the Basque Country in the United States.”
Urkullu, who also met with Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, who is of Basque heritage himself, also has plans to meet with an array of Idaho businesses.
“The cultural heritage of the Basque people in Idaho is an integral part of who we are as a state,” Otter said. “I am honored to welcome President Urkullu and his delegation as we look for ways to enhance our understanding and our appreciation for one another as well as promote our shared economic interests.”
At ceremonies in the governor’s office, Otter issued a proclamation celebrating Basque heritage, and was joined by Lt. Governor Brad Little, state Agriculture Director Celia Gould, and Ben Ysursa, former Idaho Secretary of State and a prominent member of Idaho’s Basque community. Basque dignitaries in attendance included the Minister of Education, Language Policy and Culture, Cristina Uriarte; the General Secretary of Foreign Action, Marian Elorza; and the Delegate of the Basque Government in the United States, Ander Caballero.
Jaialdi started in 1987 as a way to promote and sustain Basque culture in the United States and abroad; it’s now one of the largest Basque festivals in the world, and has been held every five years since 1990. Organizers expect between 35,000 and 50,000 people to attend, with attractions including music, food and drink, traditional sports competitions, performances, dances, family reunions, the annual San Inazio Mass and more. There’s more info at the Jaialdi website here.