Festival in Chino Draws Small But Lively Crowd

Girls from Gauden Bat wrap the maypole at the Southern California picnic.
Girls from Gauden Bat wound their ribbons around the maypole at the Southern California picnic.

The Southern California Basque Club held its 64th annual picnic at the Chino Fairgrounds Sunday, the 4th of July. While very hot weather usually prevails during the summer in Chino, Sunday’s temperatures hit a high of only 86 degrees.

The picnic, which always falls on the first Sunday of July, coincided with Independence Day this year, perhaps resulting in the smaller-than-usual crowd. Fireworks at the nearby Ruben Ayala Park took place the night before.

Nevertheless, the club still served 275 barbecue lamb lunches and 216 barbecue steak dinners. The SoCal picnic in July and the Chino picnic on Labor Day weekend are the only Basque festivals that serve two barbecue meals in one day.

Martin Almirantearena junior and senior play bugles in the Klika.
Martin Almirantearena junior and senior play bugles in the Klika.

Lunch consisted of steak, chicken, mashed potatoes and salad, while dinner included lamb chops, lamb stew, beans and salad.

“The cordero al chilindron (lamb stew) was really, really good,” said Iña Martinez.

Mike Aguerre, the new president of the club, noted that the food they served was better than usual this year. Club members cut the lamb on Saturday, in preparation, and it had very little fat on it, said Aguerre.

Aguerre took over from Laurent Arretche, who led the club as president from 2001 to 2009.

The afternoon dance show featured performances by the Chino folk dance group Gauden Bat, including dances that some members learned at Udaleku, the Basque summer camp that just ended in Reno, Nevada. Last year, Udaleku was held in Chino, and many of the campers’ families attended the picnic, and the campers performed with the Chino dancers.

Dominic Echeberria emceed the afternoon dance show, while the younger crowd looks on.
Dominic Echeberria emceed the afternoon dance show, while the younger crowd looked on.

The show was emceed by Dominic Echeberria, another former president of the club. He kept the crowd laughing with his jokes. He told the audience he had asked Arretche what he would do now that he wasn’t president anymore. Arretche answered him, “Same thing as you – nothing!”

Read Euskal Kazeta’s article on the 2009 picnic.

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin article on Basque picnic.