COLUMBUS JUNCTION, Iowa — Organizers of a Welsh heritage event in Columbus Junction are hoping that the event will grow and thrive in its second year.
The city will be the site of a St. David's Parade Saturday, March 1, along Main Street in town. St. David, a Catholic priest and bishop of the sixth century, is the patron saint of Wales; March 1 is the anniversary of his death.
It was last year when Troy Pugh of Muscatine, a financial adviser for Edward Jones in Muscatine who grew up in Columbus City next to Columbus Junction, organized the first St. David parade. Pugh's connection to the area started in the 1920s, when his great-grandfather, Lewis Pugh, a World War I veteran who served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, settled in the Columbus Junction area and started a family.
Two years ago, Pugh and his aunt Patsy Pugh Taylor, a former Columbus Junction resident who now lives in Callender, took a vacation to Wales. That visit inspired Pugh to come up with a way to celebrate some of that culture in his old hometown.
"I wanted to try and start a tradition," Pugh said. So far, that tradition is off to a good start. Taylor said that last year more than 200 people turned out for the parade in the town of nearly 2,000.
Many people of Welsh ancestry settled in the Columbus Junction area in the early 20th century for the local farming, Taylor said. Among some of the signs of that settlement include the Salem Welsh Presbyterian Church in Columbus Junction, a Welsh cemetery, and many families that remain in the area with Welsh surnames like Owens, Rees, Davis, Evans, and others.
"It brings awareness of the large Welsh population and of all the diversity within the community," Taylor said.
The event will begin with a parade at the Columbus Junction viaduct at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 1. After the parade goes down Main Street, there will be a meal with Welsh dishes at the American Legion Hall. Both those of Welsh descent and those interested in Welsh culture are invited to attend, said Pugh.