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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Donald Robinson dresses slate, Oct. 1999
Donald Robinson dresses slate, October 1999 Photo: Janet I. Fulcher

Delta & Cardiff Heritage Festival

A day-long festival celebrating the culture and heritage of the Scots-Irish and Welsh settlers of southeastern York County. The area encompasses the borough of Delta and, to the immediate south across the Mason-Dixon line, the community known as Cardiff, in Harford County, Maryland.

In 1734, the first white settlers, Scots-Irish, came to settle in the region in southeastern Pennsylvania inhabited by the Susquehannock Indians. The agricultural lifestyle favored by the settlers manifests itself today in the farms, fields and livestock that dot the county, and its annual harvests of peaches, apples, pears, and grapes. But the yield of the soil was not found only in crops and livestock, but in slate, the hard, flat grey stone that was unearthed with every turn of the shovel. Commercial production of slate, primarily for the purpose of roofing materials, began about 1785, employing Welsh immigrants to Delta. The strong influence of the slate industry on the town can be found in Delta's sidewalks, fenceposts, foundations, roofs, window sills, mantlepieces, steps and gutters.

Transportation was essential to hasten the region's economic development. The Susquehanna River; the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal (built 1839) that stretched the 45 miles from Columbia, Pennsylvania, to Havre de Grace, Maryland; the narrow gauge line railroad that stretched between Delta and Baltimore (started 1864) -- all contributed to the area's growth. This and much of Delta's history is preserved in the town's Old Line Museum, which presents a rich display of local artifacts and treasures each year at the Festival.

The annual Delta & Cardiff Heritage Festival endeavors to highlight a blend of the community's past and present. Guests are invited to enjoy performances of song and instrument, storytelling and crafts, displays of antique vehicles and farm machinery, exhibitions of splitting and dressing slate. There are games and a petting zoo for the children. Festival attendees are asked for a donation of food or a personal-care item which serves as a admission ticket; donated items go to a local charity organization.

Project documentation includes a five-page report, Festival mission statement, and twenty 8 x 10 color photographs with descriptions.

Originally submitted by: William F. Goodling, Representative (19th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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