The first Cwm-yr-Eglwys regatta took place in 1899 – planned in a hurry when Newport decided to abandon its regatta for that year. There was much enthusiasm in the village and Dinas residents determined to put the Fishguard regatta in the shade; early plans included prizes for ‘the heaviest cartload of culm which can be brought up the hill from Pwllgwaelod by one horse’, donkey races and a prize for the ‘most ill-conditioned horse in the parish’ .. a contest that they thought would be keenly fought. In the end they decided on a slightly more conventional set of events.
The date for the first regatta at Cwm-yr-Eglwys was fixed for Thursday 24th August 1899 and the success of the event so exceeded expectations that it was decided to make it an annual affair.
In the ‘Aquatic Division’ the events included sailing races, rowing races, swimming races and a diving competition. The ‘Athletic Division’ included footraces, sack races, obstacle races, donkey races and a competition to see which donkey would go furthest out to sea.
There were prizes for all the winners and the fundraising was so successful that there was even a ‘balance in hand’ for the following year’s event.
The following year’s programme was even more ambitious:
- Two oared boats
- Tub race
- Obstacle racing
- Wheel-barrow racing for committee members
- Knitting a pair of gentleman’s plain stockings
- Making a buttonhole in white linen
- Darning a hole in a piece of flannel
- Putting a patch on print
- Best home-made walking stick
- Best paper knife made in any wood
- Best drawing of the ruins of the Church at Cwm-yr-Eglwys
- Best bouquet of wild flowers gathered by Dinas children
- Best fuchsia in pots
- Best geraniums in pots
- Best musk in pots
- Best 12 pods of peas
- Best 12 potatoes
- Best white cabbage
- Best six carrots – scarse or yellow
- Best six leeks
- Best recitation in Welsh or English
- Best singing of ‘Hen Gwlad fy Nhaddau’
- Best map of Australia (Dinas school children only)
- Best hand-made tray cloth
- Donkey race
- Sack race
- Best performing donkey.
The second regatta was accompanied by the Newport Town Band and was a success in spite of several heavy showers and rough weather. It was decided for the following year that the exhibition would be ‘on a very large scale’.
And the tradition continues. Make sure you are at Cwm-yr-Eglwys in 2015 for this event. The regatta usually takes place during the first week in August and the programme is launched with a Church service on the first Sunday of the month.