City Offers a Wealth of Festivals, Museums
How many places in the world can you dance during an authentic Basque festival, compete in the Apple Blossom Queen pageant and take in an Egyptian play in the same year?
There’s at least one: Boise, Idaho. The picturesque city in the Northern Rockies offers a cultural smorgasbord second to none.
Boise is home to a Basque population of 15,000, the largest Basque community in the United States and the third largest in the world outside Argentina and the Basque Country in Spain and France. Every five years, the community hosts a Jaialdi, a large Basque Festival. The next Jaialdi will be in 2010, but every July the Basque population presents a three-day festival, featuring the famous Oinkari Basque Dancers.
Festivals celebrating other traditions include the Apple Blossom Festival every spring, featuring a rodeo and a pageant; the National Old Time Fiddlers’ Contest in June just an hour northwest of Boise in Weiser; and the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic in late June, just to mention a few.
Rich museums and historical treasure troves are clustered around Julia Davis Park and the Old Pen, the restored Idaho State Penitentiary.
Inside the park, visitors find the Idaho Historical Museum, which features an Old West saloon, a blacksmith’s shop and Western and American Indian artifacts. The Idaho Black History Museum is also in the park and displays exhibits that highlight the importance of African American culture to Idaho and America. The Boise Art Museum is also in the park.
Old Pen houses a variety of unique attractions, including the Idaho Transportation Museum and the Electricity Museum. The Idaho Botanical Garden, which actually features several themed gardens, neighbors Old Pen.
Boise is also a center of theater, thanks to the Boise Contemporary Theater and the Egyptian Theater as well as celebrations like the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.