This note about one of the Basque diaspora's festivals in the USA comes to us thanks to Los Baños' Enterprise:
Basque Picnic has family-friendly atmosphere
Event marks 45th annual such celebration in city
By Samantha Salas / email@example.com
The Los Baños Basque Club held its 45th annual Basque Picnic on Sunday and despite the extreme heat, board and club members alike were not only pleased, but impressed with the turn out as well as the family-like atmosphere that surrounded the fairgrounds.
Basque Club Secretary Jim Etchepare said he thought the pinic well really well. And since the board members work year-round on preparing each annual pinic, they've already started expressing ideas for the 46th year of the traditional picnic.
"We always start talking about things we've like to change or do differently for the following year," Etchepare said. "And with the high temperatures we experiences this year, and the injuries that resulted, that is a major concern of ours in planning for next year.
"The weather in Los Baños is usually more cooperative," he said. "But we're still looking to make changes to make sure we don't have any issues with the heat next year."
Etchepare said he's very grateful for the turnout of Basque, as well as non-Basque decent joining in the celebration.
"The club of Los Baños is basically a cultural club where we keep the heritage alive, and teach our traditions and dances to our children. It's a way to visit and catch up and keep our culture alive," he said.
And while you have to be of Basque decent to be a member of the club, Etchepare said everyone is welcome to many of their events, like the annual pinic.
Joined by surrounding cities' Basque clubs, Los Baños welcomed San Francisco, Bakersfield, Nevada and Idaho clubs to their annual celebration, club member Mary Zabalbeascoa said.
"I thought it was a big success, even though we had to deal with the heat," Zabalbeascoa said. "We had people from all over come out, even the priest who the mass in the morning was from Japan."
The Basque Picnic traditions started prior to the served lunch in the morning with the mass, followed by performances by the Los Baños Basque Club dancers, as well as the San Francisco Basque Club dancers.
"The reason why it's been going on for so long is to celebrate the joy of the heritage and to reconfirm our love for the culture. It's just a fun time," she said.
After the picnic's lunch of lamb stew, lamb chops, beans, salad, bread and cheese, the Basque club's dancers, ranging from elementary school age through high school, entertained the massive crowd with their rehearsed Basque dances, which is a favorite of many of the picnic-goers.
"There are 72 kids in the program," Anne Erreca, an instructor for the dancers, said. "22 of them are in high school."
Erreca said the amount of dancers the club has seen over the years has grown incredibly.
"I think it's the highest in the area," Erreca said of the dancers.
Los Baños High School senior Joe Erreca was one of the dancers in the group who's been part of the club and dancing since he was five.
"I can't believe it's over," Joe Erreca said of his senior year coming to an end. "I might come back next year to dance, though, if I decide to stay in town for college."
Joe Erreca was also one of four seniors who received a $500 scholarship for their dedication throughout high school. Other recipients included Phillip Etcheverry, Mark Etchepare and Chelsea Brown.
Members of the Los Baños Basque Club plan to attend San Francisco's Basque picnic in a few weeks, as the two clubs seem to be partners for each others annual celebrations.
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