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Welsh Heritage Days to feature eisteddfod, celebrate culture

March 6, 2014

RIO GRANDE, Ohio – From the legendary Bob Evans to the beautiful scenic byways, Welsh heritage and culture are woven into the fabric of life throughout southeastern Ohio and the region.

Among the great Welsh traditions is the eisteddfod, a festival of literature, music and performance dating back to the 12th century. Such tradition will highlight the Welsh Heritage Days festival scheduled for May 17 and 18 at the original Bob Evans Farm in Rio Grande.

Hosted by Bob Evans Farms, Inc. and the Madog Center for Welsh Studies at the University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College, Welsh Heritage Days will focus on the performing arts with eisteddfod competitions for youth and adults across four categories – music, theater, literature and visual arts.

The festival also will feature vendors offering food refreshments, children’s activities and a wide assortment of crafts from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

“Welsh Heritage Days is a wonderful event for the whole family to not only celebrate such a beautiful culture, but to also partake in the rich traditions firsthand,” said Ray McKinniss, Farm Manager at Bob Evans. “Some people may recall the Celtic Festival and Welsh Heritage Days we hosted in the ’80s and ’90s, and Welsh Heritage Days will serve to revitalize that event and take the fun to an entirely new level.”

The eisteddfod will serve as the heart and soul of Welsh Heritage Days. Each competition has various age ranges and will be adjudicated with first-, second- and third-place prizes of up to $150 awarded. Competitions include vocal solos, vocal choir, solo hymn singing, solo from a musical, solo piano, monologue, storytelling, recitation of scripture, sonnet on the theme of Bob Evans, lyrical poem on the theme of farm life, portrait of a living person, short story on the theme of jealousy and photography on the theme of Welsh landmarks in Gallia and Jackson Counties.

Age ranges for the eisteddfod are elementary (6 to 10), middle school (11 to 14), high school (15 to 17) and adult (18 and older) with entry fees ranging from $5 to $25. Entry forms are available at rio.edu/madog/welsh-heritage-days.cfm. The deadline for registration is April 1.

“Our aim is to create a complete saturation of Welsh culture with multiple tents for preliminary competitions, a main stage, performances, demonstrations, crafters, food and children’s activities,” Madog Center Director Jeanne Jindra. “In the true Welsh spirit, Welsh Heritage Days promises a fun weekend of joyous celebration.”

The festival also will feature a traditional folk music concert by Moch Pryderi. The six-piece Welsh-American band from Fredericksburg, Vir., is firmly rooted in the tradition Brythonic-Celtic music of Wales and Brittany, occasionally interwoven with traditional music from Ireland, Scotland, Turkey and the Appalachia.

The festival concludes with a winner’s concert to showcase the outstanding performers in each of the eisteddfod categories interspersed with a gymanfa ganu with Welshman Bryan Jones.

“A gymanfa is a traditional Welsh musical event,” Jindra said. “This gymanfa is sure to entertain everyone. The whole idea is we are going to have some fun.”

Tickets are $3 with children 5-and-under free. Parking and primitive campus is also free. For more information, visit Welsh Heritage Days webpage or call 740-245-7186.