In 2012, the BMD Board made a visionary commitment to increase the cultural heritage offerings at our annual celebration of Cottage Grove's unique and colorful past. Current BMD President Cathy Simmons joined the Board of Directors that year and is proud the board has kept its commitment.
"We wanted BMD to be known for more than just great music, good food, lots of vendors, pony rides, gold panning, parades, and a carnival. Now, seven years later, we are happily fulfilling that commitment! We've added a Heritage Stage, Covered Bridge Tours, introduced the Slabtown vs. Lemati Feud, and created the Historical Treasure Hunt. We established the Bohemia City Players who, under the creative direction of local actress & playwright, Jennifer Mandeville-Schultz, do a terrific job of making our annual theme an opportunity for Grovers and our guests to learn more about local history."
Festival Coordinator Cindy Weeldreyer, a local historian, conducted interviews with previous festival organizers and reviewed the historical files that still exist. Her research revealed Bohemia Mining Days was enthusiastically celebrated on a community-wide scale in its early decades. Many nonprofit organizations held fundraising meals, conducted raffles and bingo games, and businesses decorated their windows and dressed in Old West-style costumes.
Cindy agrees with Cathy's assessment of the board's progress to enhance cultural heritage activities since 2012. She adds, "As festival organizers, we are proud our 60th "Diamond Jubilee" has more cultural offerings for you to enjoy this year since the earliest days of the festival. We are confident Ray Nelson, the Father of BMD, would be delighted we are perpetuating his passion for local history six decades later!"
Before there was Cottage Grove, there was the Kalapuya Tribe. Listen as Kalapuya Elder Esther Stutzman shares stories from before Cottage Grove existed. If you'd prefer to do something a bit more hands-on, let real miners show you how to pan for REAL gold, gather clues for the Historical Treasure Hunt, or test your abilities with the famous Slabtown vs. Lemati Feud. View life as it was for people during various times of United States' history with the Civil War Encampment or the various Living History Demonstrators. Children may complain a bit less about how tough life is after they experience what life was like for children before the internet and smart phones. Kids will get the opportunity to wash clothes on a washboard, spin wool into yarn, use a loom to make cloth, or any of the other pioneer-era activities available in the Kid Zone.
The Heritage Stage will host a selection of Historical Talks as well as "Opal Whiteley: Unpolished Gem," an original play written and directed by local actress Jennifer Mandeville-Schulz. This play, performed by the Bohemia City Players, looks into the life Opal Whiteley, of one of Cottage Grove's most famous "diamonds in the rough."
If you like taking in your history by walking around, the Antique Engines display or one of the many museums may be more your style. Choose from the Aviation Museum, the Cottage Grove Historical Museum, the Gold Mining Museum, and the Dr. Snapp House. (Pro tip: Don't choose, visit all of them.)
We even offer rides with the Time Travelin' Train and the Covered Bridge Tours. The train has stops near many popular attractions and is great for visiting the Gold Mining Museum, competing in the Treasure Hunt, or just seeing the sights. The Covered Bridge Tours show you why Cottage Grove is the covered bridge capitol of Oregon as you visit the vast selection of covered bridges in the area, including the last covered railroad bridge west of the Mississippi River, complete with presentations delivered by tour guides in historical dress.
If you find yourself trying to decide between grabbing a bite to eat and soaking up more of the rich history the area has to offer, we have the answer. OPB film-maker, Dan Hill, will be showing a special screening of his film, "Bohemia Mines," at El Tapatio Restaurant and Cantina on Friday and Saturday. The film will be preceeded by an introduction by Mr. Hill and followed by a Q&A session. Not only is there no charge for this event, El Tapatio is offering a 10% discount on food and beverage purchases for those guests with a 2019 Bohemia Mining Days button (available at the Bohemia City Hall in Coiner Park).
Check out the Schedule for dates and times of specific events.