Folklife Festival

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The Smithsonian Folklife Festival started yesterday, and runs through next weekend (June 29-July 4 and July 7-10). It features Basque culture and the sounds of California. There’s lots to see, but here are some things we especially recommend:

Basque Dancing

There’s both traditional and contemporary dance:

 

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Rural Basque Sports

Want to see some sports that we don’t usually see, that are both creative and really difficult?

The anvil lift

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The object is to do 100 lifts, touching a 10-kilo anvil to the base and then the top plate. The winner was a man doing it solo, in 1 minute 41 seconds. The women did it in teams of two, trading off after each 25 lifts. They were only a few seconds slower than the male time, which factoring in the time it took to do the relay exchanges, is really impressive.

Sawing slices

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The goal is to saw 6 slices, each one a full slice but no thicker than 3 centimeters, so it requires both speed and precision. The winning time was 2 minutes 56 seconds.

The sandbag run

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This involves running several times around a short course with a 40(!) kilo sandbag.

(Curious what the numbers in the background are? It’s a stage painted to look like a traditional Basque multi-purpose public space.)

Boat-building

The Basques led the whaling industry in the 16th century, using a small fast boat called a txalupa. Craftsmen who have studied the historical techniques brought a skeleton of a 26-foot txalupa to the Festival, and will be working on it during the Festival.

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photos copyright Victoria Pickering