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Utica’s Welsh History and Culture – Celebrating A Festival Of Nations At Culture Fest

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Welsh History in Utica

One of the primary cultures involved in the development of Utica was the Welsh. After enduring the poor harvests in 1789 and 1802, a number of Welsh families dreaming of land ownership, immigrated to the Utica area in the mid-1800’s.

After the Revolutionary War, a significant amount of land, some 16,000 acres, was granted to war hero Major General Baron von Steuben. The Baron then divided the land into 100 acre plots and sold it to newly arrived Welsh immigrants assisting in the settlement of Utica, and developing the townships of Steuben and Remsen.

Adapting their traditional agricultural methods, the Welsh were the first to introduce dairying in to region resulting in Welsh butter becoming one of the most valued commodities in the New York market.

Relying heavily on Welsh traditions and a local community made the Utica printing industry the cultural center of Welsh-American life by the 1830’s. Utica’s Welsh-American publishing industry included 19 different publishers, 240 Welsh language imprints, multiple periodicals and a very influential newspaper.

Welsh Culture in Utica

Welsh traditions originate with a traditional agricultural history and distinctive folk music of their harpists, choirs and solo artists. Many of the Welsh traditions in song still continue today through the St. David’s Society and with a number of churches that host Cymanfa Ganu, the Welsh hymn singings.

Many Welsh traditions have found their way into the Utica culture and into the rest of American culture as well. Some of these include Insular Art, Welsh cuisine of the Bar Brith (fruitcake), Rarebit, tea cakes and even Christmas traditions such as mistletoe.

As a result of the Utica printing industry’s role in Welsh-American history, the Remsen Historical Society has one of the largest Welsh literature collections in the US. The most notable tradition in the Utica area is the Annual Remsen Barn Festival of the Arts.

A bit more about Wales?

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