Even during financially troubled times, Carson City residents don't hesitate to come out to support their community. Of course, it didn't hurt that St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church's annual Basque Festival historically puts on one of the biggest and most scrumptious spreads of the year.
"I don't have all the financial numbers yet," said Jim Cavilia, chairman of the festival, "but there must have been more than 2,000 there with kids and adults, and generally, we raise around $40,000 at this event."
All the proceeds from the Basque Festival are split between the St. Teresa School and other parish youth programs.
Christine Perdomo, principal of St. Teresa, said she was overwhelmed by the response.
"I was really concerned that because of the economy being the way it was, there might not have been as good a turnout as in past years," Perdomo said, "but the parishoners and the visitors were there en masse."
Perdomo was particularly impressed with how smoothly everything went this year.
"Everything was so well organized. I believe everyone, or at least the masses, were seated and fed by 2:30 and stragglers came in between 3 and 4. We gave the leftovers to FISH," she said.
New to the 12th annual event was a Basque band from Boise, Idaho, sponsored by the Carson Nugget, "Amuma Says No," which delighted the crowd at Fuji Park Sunday with a mix of modern Basque dance music and Basque-flavored folk and rock tunes.
"They got everyone excited and involved," Cavilia said. "And the Nugget was more involved than ever before this year. They underwrote the band."
The feast included 28 cooked turkeys and 500 pounds of lamb, barbecued over mountain mahogany from Eastern Nevada and prepared by chefs from White Pine County, Cavilia said.
Charlie Abowd, of Adele's Restaurant, coordinated the kitchen efforts and prepared what Cavilia called "Charlie Abowd's now-famous lamb stew" as well as Basque chicken.
Kids were served hot dogs and hamburgers. Chorizos were donated by the Villa Basque Deli. Potato salad came from the Cracker Box and other items on the menu were prepared by the JT Basque Bar & Restaurant, The Overland Hotel and the Carson Valley Country Club.
Perdomo said she was particularly pleased with the spirit of the crowd.
"We don't have exact numbers, but I feel we exceeded the previous year. It was a huge crowd. Everyone was real positive and we had lots of additional games for kids," she said.
"It's a great thing," Cavilia said. "We always get a lot of community participation. There are lots of parents who help and the youth get involved, too. Doug Stewart, our youth minister for the St. Teresa Parish, acted as emcee and got the youth really involved. He's only been here for a year, but we're lucky to have him."
Entertainment included colorful costumes, dancing and wood-
Another crowd pleaser, Cavilia said, was the annual sheepherding demonstration put on by handler Sandy Moore, whose dogs are so well-trained that some of them can get sheep to move just by looking at them.
Volunteers were the key to the festival's success, Perdomo said.
"Jimmy Cavilia and his committee were wonderful," she said. "We were wondering how many of the 20-plus committee members even have kids at the school, and it turns out there are only four. They all do it out of love for the school and dedication to the event. It's unbelievable."