BMD leaders step down

Scott Borgioli dressed as the deputy marshal for BMD 2021.

At its Nov. 11 meeting, the Bohemia Mining Days (BMD) Board of Directors voted unanimously to hire Scott Borgioli as its new festival coordinator on Monday (Nov. 15), replacing Cindy Weeldreyer, who is stepping down from a position she has held since 2015.

Borgioli said he was thankful for the opportunity to become the newest festival coordinator and looks forward to working closely with board members, sponsors and volunteers to continue BMD in 2022.

“I want to thank the BMD Board of Directors for selecting me serve as its new festival coordinator,” he said. “My wife, Gilda, and I have lived in Cottage Grove for several years now and we’re committed to growing deep roots in the community. We share a strong spirit of volunteerism and believe in giving back. Volunteers are an important part of BMD. It’s my desire to build a community of togetherness through the recruitment of many volunteers. …  I have no doubt that, together, we can all make BMD 2022 a successful event.”

Borgioli also serves as KNND Radio’s meteorologist.

“The board was impressed by his positive attitude, experience as a team player in other organizations, and especially his strong commitment to engaging more youth in community service,” said Weeldreyer after the vote, also citing Borgioli’s experience producing emergency preparedness and other large-scale events in California’s Central Coast region.

Since 1959, the annual BMD festival has been Cottage Grove’s largest event of the year. While it has gone through its own changes over the years, the festival is held on the third weekend of July, when it transforms Coiner Park into the Old West town of Bohemia City for three days of live music, a food court, historical re-enactors and dozens of vendors. Typically, this is accompanied by a carnival and three parades.

The popular summertime tradition requires year-round planning and more than 100 volunteers to produce. The BMD Board hires a part-time independent contractor to manage administrative tasks and coordinate the event’s production team.

Williams Resignation

Weeldreyer’s replacement follows BMD President Don Williams also stepping down from his position earlier this month.

“We understand his reasons for stepping down at this time,” said Weeldreyer. “We are grateful for his valuable contributions (past and present) that have kept our beloved summertime tradition going for 62 years.”

In his letter of resignation from the BMD Board of Directors and the Bohemia Mining Heritage Association Board of Directors (effective Nov. 3), Williams thanked board members and coordinators for the support during his term and pointed to successes despite the challenges raised during the pandemic.

Three new attractions were introduced for this year’s festival centered around BMD’s Slabtown vs. Lemati Feud: the Food Feud, the Feud Brews and the inaugural Mine Ore Cart Races. The attractions were reportedly well-received and are planned to be continued in future festivals.

“Each and every board member and coordinator, along with our wonderful sponsors, and those who made the event successful with their attendance can take great pride in the fact we leave to the 2022 committee, a bank account of $15,000,” said Williams. “In a normal year, the budget [is] around $50-$60,000 for a full-blown event.”

Williams, 85, cited his own age as a prime reason for stepping down.

The demand of evening meetings in difficult weather conditions, he said, were making his attendance impractical. This and the increasing use electronic methods as communication have stymied his desire to engage in face-to-face communication.

“Texting and email is a foreign language to a person who enjoys personal communication with his fellow human being,” he said. “I believe it is time for new ideas and a different approach to the business design for our wonderful festival, BMD. … There are, in the wings, individuals who will fill that new business model.”

Williams first got involved with BMD in 1979 when he assumed the office board president. He also began working on the Cottage Grove Chamber of Commerce Board in 1978 and has since taken roles in various other community organizations such as the Community Chest, United Way and hospital and fire boards. He was also president of the Friends of the Cottage Grove Carousel until January 2020.

During the pandemic, Williams came back to the BMD board to help navigate the event through choppy waters.

“I reached out to my dear friend and mentor for help and he didn’t hesitate to accept my invitation to sign up for a second tour of duty as BMD President,” said Weeldreyer of Williams. “I knew he had a lifelong passion for Bohemia Mining Days and he had a demonstrated track record of strong leadership to get big projects done in town.”

In his letter, Williams also recommended Weeldreyer for the First Citizen Award through the Chamber of Commerce and a Volunteer Service Award through other community service clubs.

“I want to thank each and every person who has supported — financially and physically — the many events that I have been involved with,” he said.

Weeldreyer Resignation

With Williams’ resignation this month, Weeldreyer is serving as board president for the rest of the year. Her own resignation as well as that of Treasurer Linda Oxley will be effective Dec. 31, 2021, however they will join other past BMD officers who continue to serve as board advisors when needed and to “share the collective institutional memory.”

The role of festival coordinator had finally come to a head with her obligations to family life, Weeldreyer said.

“I wanted to save my marriage.,” she laughed, adding that she looked forward to helping in other capacities with future events.

Among other community obligations, Weeldreyer has spent 17 years on the BMD Production Team and the past six as festival coordinator. She first jumped on board during her last year as a Lane County commissioner in 2004, managing content for the website.

Through the years she took on other responsibilities and eventually joined the board in 2012 before being hired on as an independent contractor as festival coordinator.

Among her accomplishments, Weeldreyer said she was proud of keeping the Kiddie Parade going when the Prospectors and Gold Diggers passed on the responsibility, introducing the Historical Treasure Hunt that used the train to get treasure hunters into the Historic District, bringing in the Bohemia City Players to tell the annual theme in greater detail, introducing the Covered Bridge Tours and establishing this year’s inaugural Mine Ore Cart Races.

“I’ve been involved with BMD in the good years and the not-so-good years, and when I look back on all the individuals I had the honor of serving with on 17 production teams, my life is richer for it,” she said. “It’s the ‘failure is not an option’ spirit of BMD organizers that has kept our nonprofit organization going for 62 years, especially when the cancellation of BMD 2020 robbed us of most of our annual revenue. … We believe Scott [Borgioli] shares that same spirit to work with the board of directors to keep the tradition going. … I am delighted to pass on my duties and responsibilities to Scott with confidence he will strengthen and continue Cottage Grove’s most beloved tradition.”

Old Challenges,

New Chapters

Those filling the new roles will be inheriting a massive project, one which may require out-of-the-box thinking as the festival has seen leaders navigate through a rough last couple of years.

In 2020, Williams was called back to help handle some of these challenges.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, I knew we needed a strong a new president with demonstrated leadership skills to help us navigate through a challenging time of uncertainty,” said Weeldreyer. “I, personally, am grateful Don accepted my invitation to come out of retirement to lead us through one of the most difficult chapters in our organization’s history.”

Williams’ first item of board business after returning to the helm last year was to cancel BMD 2020.

At the time, organizers cited the financial health of the organization and the uncertainty around pandemic restrictions.

Despite cancelling, BMD leaders stayed connected with the community and faithful donors answered the call. Many sent the organization their annual contributions, which kept the lights on for a 2021 festival. This, too, was still uncertain, however.

“As we rounded the corner into 2021, our COVID-19 crystal ball was black,” said Weeldreyer. “We only had enough money to pay our administrative expenses but nothing in the bank yet to plan BMD 2021 and we feared we might have to cancel it too.”

BMD leaders scheduled brainstorming sessions with other community leaders to find a way to come back together for a mid-July celebration.

Weeldreyer credited Williams with championing a scaled-down event in the Downtown Historic District to give the festival room to meet the state’s social distancing requirements if necessary as well as to support the district’s economically hard-hit businesses.

With new attractions planned and a novel 2021 festival seeming to take shape, though, controversy threw the group another curveball just weeks before the event when rumors the Proud Boys expressing interest in attending the Grand Miners Parade made their way through the community.

Following public backlash, leaders downplayed local concerns as “misinformation” and “rumors” spreading online and assured the community that the controversial group would not be making an appearance.

In the end, this year’s festival was largely considered a success despite the uncertainty around executing its many layers of novelty such as staging the event downtown and encouraging local buy-in to new features of the Lemati vs. Slabtown feud.

“As the pandemic drags on, the BMD 2021 Production Team and the community owe our sponsors, volunteers, vendors, business owners, performers and especially Don a debt of gratitude that we were able to make a celebration possible on the third weekend of July this year,” said Weeldreyer.

Despite navigating a bumpy last couple years, BMD 2022 is meanwhile set to open a new chapter in the festival’s storied history.

Four board members have committed to continue: Jimmy Schaper (member since 2010), Dave Johnson (2017), Linda Sexton (2019), and Jennifer Crosby (2021). 

In January, the organization will need a new president, vice president, secretary and treasurer to join the continuing board members in order to produce next year’s event.

“We need new board members and area coordinators who share our passion for BMD as an annual event that builds community by celebrating and preserving our unique and colorful history in fun, creative ways,” said Weeldreyer. “We need their time and talents to build on the foundation laid by our predecessors since 1959 to carry on this summertime tradition for the enjoyment of future generations of Grovers come what may.”

To learn more about joining the BMD 2022 Production Team, send email to [email protected] or the call the festival office at 541-942-5064.

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