St. David's Day Forum
Shwmae, my name is Dave Parry; I run an expat Welsh group called the Chicago Tafia.
The Tafia, like most Welsh groups pretty much relies on the generosity of its members and runs on a shoestring budget, which in some ways is a good thing as it forces us to be creative.
Over the past nine years the Tafia has arranged numerous events for St. David's day in the Chicagoland area, including - social pub nights, appearing waving flags outside TV studios, contacting area radio stations to play music by Welsh artists, cooking meals at our local Ronald McDonald charity house, decorating area libraries and hosting St. David's day parties.
I am opening this discussion forum to exchange ideas with people involved with Welsh groups both over here and around the world. The following are some ideas that I though were worth sharing with you all:
Getting more Welsh music on the radio
While we have had a great deal of success getting radio stations to play Welsh music and make Happy St. David's Day announcements over the years, one of our best achievements was last year when the Sonora, California based radio station IRFT (www.radioirft.com
) played 63 hours of Welsh music by over 110 different Welsh musicians over the St. David's day weekend. For more info of the lineup visit: www.radioirft.com/stdavids_artists.html
I was hoping that this year more Welsh groups would join us in this particular mission and encourage their members to contact area TV & radio stations.
Welsh musicians such as Duffy, Jem, The Stereophonics and Tom Jones should be available on most mainstream stations playlists, likewise Bryn Terfel and Katherine Jenkins should be on hand at most classical stations.
Some tasty American alternatives to imported Welsh tipples!
If any of you have ever sought out imported Welsh or other British goods you know that your wallet is in for a battering.
Between the pitiful dollar to pound ratio and horrendous import taxes, Welsh products are not the easiest to convince people to stock. Which puts many people involved in Welsh societies in the US in a bit of a predicament, do you break the bank and go for the expensive stuff for the full Welsh experience or do you make do with what's available?
Over the years we have dallied with creating Red Dragon cocktails for events and bartering with distributors to pick up Welsh brews at a reasonable cost, not an easy process.
However, there are some great Welsh-American alternatives on the market.
Did you know that Jack Daniels & Evan Williams Bourbon's were both first produced by Welsh distillers?
The Evan Williams family distillery was originally located in Dale, Pembrokeshire, and opened in 1705. The family later emigrated to the USA during the temperance period of the Welsh non-conformist church and helped found the Kentucky whiskey industry, a number of high quality bourbons are sold under the Evan Williams name to this day. The family of Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel had a similar tale to tell.
Another snifter that had it's roots in Wales is Gales Welsh style cider, a cheap and cheerful little treat brewed by the Thomas Family Winery down in Southern Indiana. The cider has an interesting tale to tell to boot, it was first brewed by a Welsh immigrant named Gale Thomas during the prohibition era in the 1930's and was sold surreptitiously to buyers in Indianapolis and surrounding areas.
The Welsh contribution to the production of quality wines however seems to be a more recent innovation, currently I am aware of two Welsh wineries operating in California. The AmByth estate is run by a Welsh expatriate businessman who emigrated to the US in the 1970's, and the Cambria winery in Santa Maria, California is run by the family of recent Welsh immigrants.
Welsh style beers remain elusive, but with the expansion of microbrew pubs in the US this could be an opportunity for this to change.
I put forward that we, the members of AmeriCymru contact our local micro-breweries to float the idea that they create Welsh style ale for St. David's day 2009. (does anyone have contacts in the brewing industry?)
It may not be the real stuff, but it would be a great opportunity to get a few more dragons sighted around the country!
Some links to some Welsh-American producers:
The Thomas Family Winery (Gales Welsh style cider)
208 East Second Street
Ambyth Estate Winery
510 Sequoia Lane
Templeton, CA 93465
5475 Chardonnary Lane
Santa Maria, CA
Phone: 805-937 8091
Evan Williams Kentucky Bourbon
Lets face it flights aren't getting any cheaper and again with the dollar to pound ratio neither are the performers wages!
However yet again there are some great Welsh & Welsh-American performers on this side of the pond.
David Llewellyn in Tennessee, Oceans Apart in Arizona, Hwyl in North Carolina, The Burlington Welsh Chorus in Ontario, Jay Brook in Indiana are just a few.
Over the past few months I have been compiling a list of Welsh musicians, societies, shops, pubs and businesses in the United States (It is far from complete and I am open to new suggestions for listings), I have attached a PDF copy of the list to this forum, if you cant find it email me at WelshChicago@gmail.com and ill email you a copy.
Welsh DVD's are all but impossible to find over here, but there is a solution, multi-region DVD players are now available on sites like Amazon.com for less than $100.
Welsh DVD's are also relatively inexpensive on Amazon.co.uk where inclusive of shipping a wide selection of DVD's are available for less than $16.
Some good new released that I recommend are 'Gavin & Stacey' and 'The Edge of Love', while some older classics that no collection should be without are 'Grand Slam', 'Very Annie Mary', 'Twin Town', 'House of America', 'Proud Valley', 'The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain', 'Solomon & Gaenor', 'Hedd Wyn', 'Eldra' and the kids classics 'Fireman Sam' & 'Super Ted'.
I hope you find some of these ideas helpful and I look forward to hearing your ideas and suggestions.
The Chicago Tafia Welsh Society