Enjoy these photos from our annual gathering in Pella, Iowa, during St. David's Day.
Article And Photos By Danny Davis
Several hundred people, decked out in the Welsh colors of green, red, and white, gathered in Columbus Junction Saturday, to celebrate their Welsh heritage during the seventh annual St. David’s Day festival.
Observed by Welsh all around the world, the date of St. David’s passing is used to celebrate Welsh culture and tradition through Welsh music, food, and parades.
All of that pride-of-heritage was on display Saturday, as nearly 100 people carrying signs with their ancestor’s names walked in the parade, which went down Main Street and ended up at the American Legion, that had been decorated with Welsh signs, flags, and balloons.
When they arrived, they were treated to a traditional Welsh meal that included Lobsgow stew, Welsh cakes, laverbread, blood pudding, Welsh cheese and desserts.
The festivities inside the Legion began when Sara (Evans) Mayo led the crowd in prayer, and sang several traditional Welsh songs, including the beautiful We Will Keep A Welcome (In The Hillsides).
After recognizing some of the Welsh family names in attendance, she was joined by Iowa Senator Nate Boulton of Columbus Junction, in the singing of the Welsh National Anthem, which anyone who is Welsh will tell you is no easy feat; especially for someone who doesn’t speak Welsh. “I took a summer class in college to learn to speak it, so I can say a few phrases, but that’s about it,” said Boulton, who is part Welsh and was an integral part of getting the festival going. “My cousin Troy (Pugh) and I returned home from Wales and began talking about holding a festival to celebrate our Welsh heritage and honoring the Welsh who still live in our area. Troy ran with the idea, and it has turned into a celebration that continues to grow each year. It’s been a real honor for me to not only be a part of it, but emcee it each year,” said Boulton.
Ronda Van Auken Redlinger has been involved in the festival for all seven years and noticed this year’s attendance was down from past years. “This is a good size. I think we are all happy with the turnout, but it’s not the biggest event we’ve had. I think the cold weather turned people away. I know some of the families, who were unable to come, have kids who are participating in various athletic events, and we have our snowbirds who are out of state still.”
As a result of the cold temps, there were only a handful in attendance who were 100 percent Welsh. “It’s great to have them joining us today,” said Boulton. “They have made such an impact in the area and helped build these communities, so it’s pretty special that we are here today to honor them.”
For those interested in genealogy, some of the Welsh family names in attendance were Jones, Hughes, Thomas, Foulkes, Rees, Peters, Davis, Davies, Arthur, Pugh, Morgan, Evans, and Edwards.