A Bit About The Cornish Festival

Pendarvis GuidesThe Southwest Wisconsin Cornish Society was formed in 1991 with a simple goal:  to raise public awareness of the historic influence of early Cornish immigrants in the Old Lead Region of Wisconsin and the city of Mineral Point in particular.

Jim Jewell, the Society's first president, envisioned a community celebration of the city's Cornish heritage. The Society's small membership set to work to make that dream come true, and in 1993 they succeeded. Jim was honored as a Bard. Today, the Society can boast of four Bards, including our current president, Glen Ridnour, inducted last year in Cornwall.

The first Cornish Festival was a one day affair with an afternoon program at which Edgar Hellum, one of the restorers of the Pendarvis Historic Site, was named a Bard for his work in rescuing and carefully preserving the Cornish-built stone buildings on Shake Rag Street. The day ended with an evening pasty banquet and program attended by about 100 people.

The Society's membership grew, as those of Cornish persuasion responded from everywhere in the country. In 1994 the festival was expanded to two days. "Taste of Mineral Point" became a part of CornishFest in 1995. And, as the years went by, the Festival grew in length, strength, and cultural integrity. In keeping with the Society's mission of "education as well as entertainment," genealogy seminars were added, along with workshops, children's games and crafts, musical performances and a Pop-up Museum designed to tell the stories of local mineral mining and Cornish life.

A quarter of a century after the first celebration, CornishFest attracts a wide audience for "three days of facts, food and fun." The Pendarvis housing complex welcomes pub-goers on Friday night, and Saturday's schedule is packed with events, including lively adventures for Kids, "Taste of Mineral Point" with authentic Cornish cuisine, and impressive musical theater on the stage of the historic Opera House.   Finally, enjoy a Celtic/Welsh Hymn Sing and a cup of tea on Sunday afternoon.

 Cornish Memorials

The Southwest Wisconsin Cornish Society has installed a striking cast iron historic marker in the pocket park adjacent to the 1915 Mineral Point Opera House. The plaque outlines "Our Cornish Heritage" and "Our Cornish Life." In 2016, the city's Common Council voted to designate the busy downtown location, owned by the city, as the "Cornish Heritage Park." The Society is now drafting plans for significant additions for visitors to the pleasant green space. (Click on photo to read the text)

Cornish Heritage SignIn the nearby Public Library, a memorial to the Cornish who migrated to this region in the 1800's graces a wall, commemorating Cornish miners, the local mining history, and the area's farming practices. The Society commissioned the work by the late Bruce Howdle, a prominent local artist who captured the community's history in his large-scale murals of clay.

Cornwall Family History Society Records

We are fortunate to have the records from the Cornwall Family History Society available to us on line in Southwest Wisconsin for researching our Cornish ancestors. Birth, death, and marriage records that happened in Cornwall are all accessible on CFHS records. You may contact either one of the two convenient depositories at the Southwest Wisconsin Room in the Ulsvick Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville (608-342-1719) or at the Mineral Point Library Archives in Mineral Point, Wisconsin (608-987-2447). They are available FREE for your use and you may order copies of documents from Cornwall for a small fee. Please remember that these records are a work in progress, not a finished product. We suggest you call ahead to make certain the facility is open and available on the day you wish to visit. The Mineral Point Library Archives is open on Thursday from 12:00 pm - 8:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.

In addition to the CFHS records, you may be surprised at the array of genealogical information you may find at both of these fine libraries. 





Kernow bys vykken!

(Cornwall forever!)


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