Cottage Grove celebrated 60 years of Bohemia Mining Days with its “Diamond Jubilee” last week as fortuitous sunny skies made for high turnout in both particpants and festival-goers.
“I think it went extremely well,” said festival coordinator Cindy Weeldreyer, crediting much of the success to the all-volunteer team. “This is the 26th Bohemia Mining Days celebration I have helped produce. As festival coordinator, I had the largest volunteer production team I’ve ever worked with.”
The three-day event featured a wide variety of family-friendly attractions, often drawing on the city’s heritage, and included 13 Main Stage performances, a carnival, competitions, daily parades and historical presentations.
In keeping with the theme “Diamonds in the Rough,” the Bohemia City Players performed the play “Opal Whiteley: Unpolished Gem” over three days spotlighting the local legend. The original play was written and directed by Jennifer Mandeville Schulz, starring Sophia Schulz as a young Whiteley, examining the childhood of the precocious nature writer.
Festival-goers were also invited to participate in Cottage Grove’s historical feud between Slabtown and Lemati, two rival settlements which quarreled over ownership issues such as the new railroad, the post office and water rights.
Participants in this year’s feud collected points for their respective teams in a series of competitions during the festival, which included tug-of-war and cherry pit spitting. The final tally gave the win to Slabtown with 119 points, versus Lemati’s 72.
The Community Spirit Award was handed out to local businesses who participated in other ways. Schweitzer’s Work & Western Wear won an award for best costume and The Flower Basket & Gift Boutique received first place for best display while Stacy’s Covered Bridge Restaurant took second.
By all accounts, participation and turnout exceeded previous years.
Rainier Amusements’ carnival ticket sales, for example, completely sold out at 900, raking in almost $12,000.
“We made more money on the carnival than we have ever made,” Weeldreyer said. “We are so grateful to every single person who bought one of those advanced ride bracelets for us.”
Compared to around 50 vendors last year, registration this year reached 87 and sales here, too, were gainful.
“The vendors are so happy,” said Weeldreyer. “Most of them made money hand over fist.”
To finish off the event on Sunday morning, the Prospectors and Gold Diggers Club served 821 people for its 55th annual Breakfast on the Mountain.
By Sunday evening, festival volunteers had finished cleaning up the parks, a feat Weeldreyer said was representative of the increasing efficiency of the group.
“We’ve been doing this for so long now, since 2012, that it has become a much tighter, well-run event. We’re really getting better at producing it,” she said. “We had a great time and we hope everyone else did too.”