The 35th annual Gooding County Basque Festival is coming up on Sunday, July 17th and you won’t want to miss it!

The Basque people are known for throwing a festive party, with great food and a variety of Basque customs, games and competitions. There also will be a Mass service presented in the Basque language on Sunday in Gooding beginning at 11 a.m.

All of the activities are happening at the Gooding Basque Center at the junction of Idaho Highways 46 and 26. Lunch will be served at noon. Delicious lamb chops and pulled pork are on the menu along with Basque beans, Basque rice, bread and wine/beverages. Entry fees are $16 for adults, and $8 for children. The event is a fund-raiser for the Gooding Basque Society.

Basque dancers from Ruby Valley, Nevada will perform at the festival this year.


There will be kids races, tug of wars, and a weight-carrying competition. The men have to carry a heavy ball weighing 104 pounds, and the women have to carry 52 pounds each. The competitors lift the weight over their shoulder and go as far as they can before they can’t carry it anymore.

“It should be a good time,” says John Ensunsa, president of the Gooding Basque Society. “We’ve got a lot of fun and entertainment lined up. We like to share our culture with our neighbors.”

The Basque people settled in Southern Idaho in the late 1800s and early 1900s to get work as sheep herders. Some of them went on to own their own sheep ranching operations.

Gooding still has a strong population of Basque people, Ensunsa said.

Be sure to put the Gooding Basque Festival on your calendar. It’s always a good time, with great food and entertainment. If you know people who haven’t been to a Basque Festival, be sure to bring them along.  We know you’ll come back!

For more information, contact John Ensunsa at


All photos by Terrell Williams