The Basque Country and its culture take center stage at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival held in Washington and attended by around 4 million visitors
The 50th edition of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, where the Basque Country has participated as a guest this year, ended last 10 July. It is the main culture festival in the world and Basque color, identity and culture managed to gather around four million visitors.
During the Festival, which started last 29 June, visitors enjoyed all the typical elements of a small Basque town but in the centre of Washington, to be precise in the iconic National Mall, the huge expanse that extends from the Capitol to the Obelisk, where the Festival took place.
The settings devised to attract the attention of the visitors where the baserri (farmstead), the frontoi (handball court), the workshop, the euskaltegi (place to learn Basque language), the accommodation and the port. This outdoor event, which took up 12,000 square meters, was possible thanks to the interest of the people in charge of the Smithsonian Institute, who contacted the Basque institutions to request their participation in the Folklife Festival. This is the first time in the history of the Smithsonian in which a language has had its own space within the event.
The Basque Country has been working for months to prepare all the details for this trip which is so important for Basque interests, not just because the Country has used this superb showcase in the heart of the United States to place itself on the map, but because both the Basque Government and the three regional councils had a busy schedule with North American institutional and business agents.
A GREAT OPPORTUNITY
It was a perfect opportunity and therefore large companies, such as Petronor, Telefonica, Repsol or Iberdrola joined this initiative with a common interest: help the Basque economy find its place in the U.S. universe.
They all tried to act as a driving force for other companies, since they are deeply rooted in that country.
The agendas of many of them are already full of future meetings, mainly in the area of aeronautics, where EGA Master and Aernnova made a good impression with their exhibitions.
The President of the Regional Council, Unai Rementeria, stated that the trip to Washington to participate in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the economic agenda have opened the doors of the United States at the cultural as well as the business and political levels. It is part of the assessment made by Rementeria after an intense week of meetings and events for Basque and American institutions and companies as well as all the participants in the Folklife Festival.
During the past weeks, there were meetings with federal government authorities in the Energy and Home Departments, as well as representatives of the Senate and of the States of Maryland, Idaho and Nevada. In this regard, the President of the Provincial Council has praised the collaboration between institutions and companies: “As for the economic part, I want to highlight the collaboration between institutions and companies. If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. We are committed to this formula and working hard with companies in the search for opportunities, as this implies more wealth and employment for Bizkaia”.