Traditional Basque dancing, athletic contests and music are scheduled for the Basque Festival, July 21 in downtown Reno.

The free festival, which celebrates Nevada’s Basque heritage, runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Wingfield Park, First Street and Arlington Avenue.

Participants can take in traditional Basque music and participate in such contests as weight carrying and wood chopping, as well as sample Basque fare, including chorizo and kalimotxos (cola and red wine). There also will be improvisational poetry in the Basque language, Euskara, an unusual language that scholars agree is unrelated to any other in the world, according to the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno.

The Basque region straddles France and Spain, and in the 1800s, Basque immigrants began making their way to the American West. Since then, Basques have made their mark in Nevada, in everything from politics to art to food. Today, there are more than 50,000 Basques in the American West, according to the Zazpiak Bat Reno Basque Club, with the greatest concentrations in Nevada, California and Idaho.

Details: Zazpiak Bat Reno Basque Club, 775-762-3577,; or check out the group’s Facebook page.

For information on staying in Reno or Sparks for the festivities, see the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority.