Though financial uncertainty and health concerns put the stops on Cottage Grove’s iconic festival last year, Bohemia Mining Days (BMD) seems due to make a rebound for 2021.
On May 26, BMD organizers revealed plans to hold a two-day festival in the Historic Downtown District on July 17 and 18.
Though a scaled-down version of the celebration, planners have diversified revenue sources and are introducing new concepts to BMD in hopes they will go on to become part of the fun-loving tradition.
“If there’s one thing I know after 40 years of being in the Grove, is that the DNA that we have is creativity and cooperation,” said BMD Vice President Cindy Weeldreyer. “And most importantly, we love to have fun.”
As part of BMD’s reincarnation, the classic Lemati-Slabtown feud will transform into a year-round virtual competition.
In 2012, BMD resurrected an actual 19th century feud — which split the community into two towns — by dramatizing the rivalry during the festival. The historic Slabtown vs. Lemati Feud (1894-1899) split Cottage Grove into two separate towns for six years.
Using the South Lane School District as a guide, BMD organizers are asking locals to register online as a “settler” of their designated Lemati or Slabtown jurisdiction.
Lematians live within Cottage Grove’s official city limits on the east side of the Coast Fork of the Willamette River and Slabtowners live on the west side of the river and include the rural communities of Latham, London, Saginaw and in the Row River Valley. The boundaries are suggested but not mandated.
Those who live outside the school district boundaries are welcome to settle in the town of their choice.
Cottage Grove area residents are encouraged to invite friends, family, neighbors and co-workers (both near and far) to settle in the virtual town they’ve chosen.
As in past years of the family-friendly feud, Slabtowners and Lematians will compete in BMD games during the festival to earn points and declare which town has the bragging right for a year.
The online twist this year will make it a hybrid competition played both virtually and in real life.
Organizers said their goal is to get 50 settlers registered online in each town once the infrastructure for the virtual feud is in place. A precise date for the website launch has not yet been announced.
Once the minimum of 50 “settlers” have established their towns, there will be real world and virtual campaigning activities leading to an online election of a mayor, four councilors and the adoption of a town logo.
Points for the competition will be earned in various ways such as volunteering or raising money for the festival.
Feud points can also be earned in a new feature called the “Feud Food Fight,” which doubles as a year-round revenue source for the festival.
Restaurants, food trucks and coffee stands will identify an item on their menus as the “BMD Feud Special.” For each order of the special item, $1 will go toward the BMD organization.
Customers can also fill out a passport by patronizing participating businesses.
Completed passports can be dropped off at Cottage Grove City Hall, Coast Fork Brewing, Covered Bridge Brewing Group or The Sentinel office.
Every quarter, a prize drawing will be held and at the end of the year, there will an annual drawing with a grand prize.
The Covered Bridge Brewing Group has agreed to serve as the official “city hall” and saloon for Slabtown and the Coast Fork Brewery has agreed to serve in the same capacity for Lemati.
Both establishments are brewing a new ale for Bohemia Mining Days and a dollar of each sale will also go to the BMD organization.
There will be no food carts at the festival this year as organizers hope visitors will find their way to nearby restaurants and watering holes.
“We wanted to do something to support our downtown businesses that have especially suffered through last year,” said Weeldreyer.
The Feud Food Fight is slated to begin June 17.
Organizers are also introducing the first ever ore cart race down Main Street.
In this event, teams will build human-powered, homemade mining ore carts that meet minimum safety standards, racing them one block from Sixth to Seventh streets.
Cash prizes will be offered in Sacajawea gold dollar coins: $100 to first place, $75 for second place, and $50 for the third place.
Winning teams’ names will be permanently inscribed on trophies: a pickaxe, a sharpened silver shovel or a copper mining pan.
The trophies will be displayed permanently at the Bohemia Mining Museum, trotted out to be defended by the team the following year.
Entrants can compete as a business, a private individual or as a club.
With all the changes, familiar features will be present, too.
All three of the traditional parades – Bloomers Parade, Kiddie Parade and the Grand Miners Parade – are still planned to make an appearance. Likewise, a Kid Zone will be sectioned off on Washington Avenue.
Music will also return to the stage at All-America City Square, starting at noon, directly after the Grand Miner’s Parade on Saturday. The festival will continue that day until 9 p.m.
Vendors are planned to line the streets as Main Street will be closed to traffic.
There are still hurdles, however.
Additionally, the nonprofit is in need of insurance.
“As of right now, we do not have insurance,” said BMD President Don Williams at the May 26 press conference. “If we don’t have insurance to move forward within 10 days or so, we’re going to have to take a hard look at continuing what we have planned.”
In addition, the carnival will not be making an appearance this year.
“It’s not that they don’t want to come – it’s that they cannot hire enough staff to run the show,” Williams said.
As a significant revenue source, the lack of the carnival will be a financial blow to the organizers.
Still, the BMD board recently approved a $16,000 budget to produce the two-day event and organizers seem confident their creative approach to revenue building will pay off for this and future festivals.
“I want to particularly thank the City of Cottage Grove mayor and city manager for their splendid support and cooperation and helping the Bohemia Mining Days board of directors and all of our people that are working with the board to bring about the celebration of Bohemian Mining Days in its 62nd year,” said Williams.
Those interested in becoming vendors at the event can contact Linda Sexton at 541-913-9586 or email [email protected]
For details about events or how to play the virtual feud, visit online at bohemiaminingdays.org. The BMD office can be reached at 541-942-5064.
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