Ann Romney: Comments 'are raising Wales' profile in US'
A major festival celebrating Welsh culture in the United States says Ann Romney is having an impact on people's perception of Wales.
Mrs Romney, the wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt, is the granddaughter of a Welsh coal miner.
She spoke of her Welsh roots at the US Republican National Convention in Florida last week.
The North American Festival of Wales says she is dispelling the myth that Wales and England are the same country.
The festival is one of the largest of its type in the US and attracted 750 people over the weekend, 250 more than last year.
It has been an annual event for more than 80 years, and this year was staged in Scranton, Pennsylvania, said to be a Welsh heartland in the US.
Wales has been under the spotlight in the United States after Mrs Romney spoke of her south Wales roots at the US Republican National Convention.
End Quote Megan Williams The North American Festival of Wales
Everybody here (at the festival) has the same general feeling that Wales is being given a boost”
Dr Megan Williams, the festival's executive secretary, whose ancestors come from New Tredegar in the Rhymney Valley, said: "She (Mrs Romney) has defintely had an impact.
"She's certainly raising the profile of Wales, and that of Welsh cakes although people over here mistakenly call them Welsh cookies," joked Dr Williams.
"Everybody here (at the festival) has the same general feeling that Wales is being given a boost."
Dr Williams, whose husband is from Criccieth, Gwynedd, added: "People here are starting to realise that Wales and England are not one country and are separate.
"Ann Romney's comments have gone some way to dispell that."
At the Republican National Convention, Mrs Romney described how her miner grandfather in Nantyffyllon was determined to prevent his family going down the pit, and saw "hope and opportunity" in the US.
She spoke as her husband was officially selected as the Republican nominee for this year's US presidential election.
Mrs Romney has also handed out Welsh cakes based on her grandmother's recipe.
She spent a day at Llangynwyd, near Maesteg, earlier last month for a visit filmed for American TV.
Visitors the The North American Festival of Wales could have been forgiven for thinking they were in the old country, such was the strong representation from Wales.
A Pontypridd choir, Côr Godre'r Garth, joined Welsh singers Dafydd Iwan and Iris Williams in the line-up, while visitors could take Welsh language lessons and an Eisteddfod and seminars on Welsh history have been held.
There has also been a screening of the 2011 film Hunky Dory, which was set in Swansea during the summer of 1976. It tells the story of a school staging a rock 'n' roll version of Shakespeare's The Tempest.
The festival started last Friday in Scranton and ends on Monday.
With a population of around 78,000, Scranton is an area with a strong Welsh history and has one of the highest concentrations of people of Welsh heritage, says David Parry of the festival.
The festival started as the North American Gymanfa Ganu (a hymn singing festival) in 1929.
Mr Parry said the first few were held at Niagara Falls until 1933 when the tradition of hosting the event in a different city every year began.Coal mines
He said: "From 1890 to around 1910 thousands of Welsh emigrated to the (Scranton) area to work in the coal mines and related industries.
"The town boasts one of the largest Welsh cemeteries outside of Wales.
"The festival changes city every year, usually targeting areas with active or historic Welsh populations.
"Areas like Scranton, and other cities in Pennsylvannia, Ohio, Wisconsin etc, are historically Welsh but have little recent Welsh immigration, whereas cities such as Chicago, New York tend to have a mixture of both."
He added that the Welsh language was spoken among some of Welsh origin in the US and Canada, and the desire to learn was very much still alive.
"It is surprising how many of them speak Welsh at a reasonable level," Mr Parry said.
It is not the only Welsh festival being staged in the United States this weekend.
The Venedocia Ohio Welsh Festival has been running since about 1915.
Others include the Malad Valley Welsh Festival in Idaho, which is held annually in the summer.
AmeriCymru, in Portland, Oregon, holds the annual West Coast Eisteddfod, which features Welsh bands, authors and other events.