Malad, Idaho has the highest number of people per capita with Welsh ancestry in the United States. Because of its rich history and heritage, the Malad Valley is holding its annual Welsh Festival this weekend from June 28-30.
One of the Welsh traditions is called, eisteddfod.
“It’s…basically a huge performing arts competition,” Sheila Hadden, member of the Welsh festival committee said. The competition consists of the various arts such as, poetry, literature, vocal music and instrumental music.
Immigrants who came to Malad continued their tradition of eisteddfod, until World War I, Hadden explained. Because many men were gone, and there was a lack of financial resources, it remained dormant for almost a century, until some individuals decided to bring it back to life.
It is a tradition the community loves, and people are traveling to come to it.
Each year there is a poetry competition for children and adults. The adult poetry contest winner will receive the award of being chaired the Bard. The Chairing of the Bard is a Welsh tradition that dates back centuries.
“Having a chair was really a rare thing, most people just had cheap little stools…a nice chair was a big deal,” Hadden said.
The winner gets to have their name put on the back of the chair and it is kept in the City Hall throughout the year.
Grant Vaughn and Dr. Ronald Dennis will each be doing a presentation on the history of Wales.
Vaughn will be talking about tithe maps, and how they can help people locate home sites of their ancestors.
Dennis will be sharing his experience of being a part of the Bardic Circle. Years ago, he wanted to learn about his Welsh family history, and so he learned the language to help him in this endeavor. Because of his extensive research, he was invited into the Bardic Circle in Wales. This is one of the highest honors received in Wales, and Dennis is the only American member who has been invited in.
Hadden compared this achievement to someone receiving a Presidential Medal of Honor in the United States. Once someone is invited into the Bardic Circle, you are a member for life.
This weekend, there will be many activities and events.
“If you really want to experience the festival, give yourself the full two days,” she said.
There will be performers from Idaho and Oregon such as, The Haywire Ranch String Band, The Sofisticats, Teton Sky, Families of Malad and the Katie Jane Band.
There will be activities in the park and family history displayed in the chapel, different food vendors, wagon tours and more. People can learn more about their events and activities on their website, http://welshfestival.com/ or on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/welshfestival/.