Celebrate like the Basques, Boise, Idaho
One of the largest Basque festivals in the world, Jaialdi 2015 celebrates Idaho’s Basque community, a distinct culture tracing its roots back 2,000 years to northern Spain’s Basque autonomous region.
The dancing and games (including jai alai) that are central to Basque life will be on display during the July 28-August 2 festival, pegged to the community’s celebration of San Ignacio of Loyola, its patron saint. If you can’t make the every-five-years festival, stop by Boise’s “Basque Block”anytime to eat, drink and learn more about Basque culture.
Salt of the earth, Malden, West Virginia
Chef Nancy Bruns’ relationship with salt runs deep. Her family’s salt business goes back seven generations to the early 1800s, when Bruns’ great, great, great, great-grandfather William Dickinson came to the Malden area. He made a life from the salt in the natural brine springs bubbling up from an ancient ocean underneath the Appalachian Mountains. The family dug wells to reach richer, heavier brine buried in the earth.
The family stopped harvesting salt in 1945, but Bruns and her brother Lewis Payne relaunched the business in 2013 with an emphasis on local, sustainable food and business practices. Tours of J.Q. Dickinson Salt Works are available by appointment. Bruns recommends visiting in spring, summer or fall, when salt production is in full swing and the surrounding farmland is blooming or being harvested.
World’s largest truck stop, Walcott, Iowa
Crack open a cold one at the Iowa 80’s Truckers Jamboree. A slice of Americana in Walcott, Iowa, the Iowa 80 — billed as the world’s largest truck stop — is hosting the 36rd annual Truckers Jamboree from July 9 to 11, with antique truck displays, a pork chop cookout, Trucker Olympics and more.
Even if you can’t make the annual celebration of truckers, you can buy big rig lights and fenders amid the aisles of chrome in the Super Truck Showroom, get your teeth fixed at the dentist and catch a movie at the truck stop theater.
An 18-wheeler named “America the Beautiful” welcomes truckers to the stop. On its side is a landscape painting featuring famous sites along I-80, America’s “Main Street.” (The actual highway stretches about 3,000 miles from New York to San Francisco.) You can also learn about big rigs of old at the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum.
This land is our land, Tulsa, Oklahoma
The Woody Guthrie Center celebrates the life and work of the renowned folk singer.
The return of great American folk singer Woody Guthrie’s archives to Oklahoma — and the opening of a museum dedicated to his legacy — is a huge boon for his home state. The Woody Guthrie Center houses instruments, drawings and writings by the late performer and many he inspired, including Pete Seeger and Tom Morello.
The archive vault of the “This Land is Your Land” singer holds stacks of notebooks of unpublished songs and poems available for research purposes. The center is the cornerstone of Tulsa’s revitalized Brady Arts District, sharing a repurposed paper plant with a contemporary art gallery, an arts education center and a Philbrook Museum of Art satellite location.
Hot tour for hot sauce, Avery Island, Louisiana
Master barrel cooper Hamilton Polk, now retired, is shown preparing oak barrels for pepper mash.
Never mind that it’s sold in more than 180 countries and territories and is mixed into South African meatballs and Polish “mad dog” vodka drinks. Your favorite Tabasco sauce is still manufactured by the McIlhenny Company at the Tabasco factory’s original site on Avery Island, where it has been run by the same family since 1868.
You can tour the facility and sample a new addition: food tours launched in 2014 offering tastes of Cajun cuisine and culture. Come with an appetite. The new tours are three hours long, and reservations are recommended. An expanded factory tour and new visitor center is scheduled to open in late 2015.
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