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San Inazio Festival showcases Basque culture in downtown Boise

Posted at 2:46 PM, Jul 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-30 16:46:43-04

BOISE, Idaho — Boise has the highest concentration of Basque people in the United States, these descendants of northern Spain hold an annual festival to honor St. Ignatius of Loyola, the patron saint of the Basques.

San Inazio has been happening in downtown Boise for 25 years, but it didn't take place the past two years because of the pandemic.

"It’s just great to be back together again, I mean all of us that went through COVID knew how much we missed community," said John Ysursa. "So it’s great to get back together again.”

The San Inazio Festival features music, dancing and food, Saturday morning children put on a show as several different groups held dancing performances on the Basque Block.

"We started when we were young and it is great to see there is still huge demand for these kids wanting to do it and their parents wanting them to be involved in our culture," said Aitor Amuchastegui.

The Basque Market was also cooking up their classic paella, this traditional dish cooked in a large pan featuring Spanish rice, saffron and seafood to name a few ingredients, people have several opportunities to try it out at the Basque Market.

"This is our first one today, we will have three more today and one tomorrow night at the Sunday night dance," said Tony Eiguren, one of the owners of the Basque Market. "But we also do cooking classes, you can always come in here and we will help walk you through it."

While this is a Basque celebration, it's open to the general public giving people in the Boise a chance to immerse themselves in this unique culture.

"It’s great you came down," said Ysursa. "There is an open invitation for everyone in the Treasure Valley."

"That’s where we have been so fortunate as a culture not only do we support each other to make this happen, but our community of non Basque people have supported us for so many years," said Amuchastegui. "We are pleased to have that."

Jaialdi is a celebration that brings Basque people from around the world to Boise every five years, but that got canceled in 2020, again in 2022 and is slated to return in 2025.

The San Inazio Festival will end on Sunday with a picnic in Kristin Armstrong Park and another night of celebration on the Basque Block.