Jackson City Schools Eisteddfod Program
The Madog Center for Welsh Studies has actively supported the eisteddfod program in the Jackson City Schools in several ways. Each spring prior to the singing event in the schools, we give presentations on the history of the eisteddfod in Wales and in early Jackson, the Southern Ohio Eisteddfod Association, and the beginning of the program in the schools. We also support the event by providing ribbons for each participant, and printing full-color programs.
History of the Jackson, Ohio Eisteddfod
The Southern Ohio Eisteddfod Association, was founded in 1922 by a group of local Welsh businessmen led by John E. Jones, son of Globe Iron Company founder Eben Jones. Their purpose was to "preserve the Welsh language and the cultivation of poetry and music". The group was able to raise enough money to build a large Eisteddfod Auditorium, between Dickenson and Vaughn Streets, in 1928 which could seat 4000 in the audience and a stage which could hold 300. It was the only building in the country dedicated to holding eisteddfodau.
1930 Grand National Eisteddfod
With such a building, the SOEA was able to attract the Grand National Eisteddfod in 1930 to Jackson and thousands of people filled the town. Choirs from around the country competed for top prizes. It is said that Ohio Welsh national enthusiasm reached its peak at this time. In this competition, mixed choruses, male choirs, famale choirs came from as far as Baltimore, MD, and London, Ontario, to sing on the huge stage of the auditorium.
Beginning of the Jackson City Schools Eisteddfod
Due to declinning economic conditions associated with WWI, the last eisteddfod of the SOEA was held in the auditorium in October, 1938. The building was sold and used as a warehouse for many years. It burned beyond repair on February 2, 1973. But the group in the SOEA had the foresight to bring in R. R. Thomas to develop an eisteddfod program for the schools in 1924. "Bulldog" Thomas directed this annual spring musical competition in the schools until 1938, when D. Merrill Davis took over as Musical director. Mr. Davis, who possessed proud Welsh heritage, is largely responsible for ensuring the growth the the school eisteddfod. Today, school eisteddfodau are held in all three of the elementary buildings and at the middle and high school levels as well in vocal music, instrumental music and piano competitons as well.