For those who have attended Bohemia Mining Days in the past six decades, you know our organization has had its good years and not so good years. There were even a couple of years when it looked like it would be the last – and yet each time a few hearty souls and lots of generous businesses, organizations, and individuals jumped in to save it.
I’ve served as a BMD volunteer off-and-on for a quarter of a century, starting in the 1980’s. In 2003, after my time as a Lane County Commissioner came to an end, I had the time and the pleasure of assisting my predecessor, Sharon Jean, in producing the celebration. In 2012, I joined the board of directors and become festival coordinator at the end of BMD 2015. This will be the fourth festival I have produced and I am blessed to partner with the largest and best production team I’ve ever worked with!
Bohemia Mining Days is run by deeply committed volunteers who work closely all year long. We function as a large family sharing a “failure is not an option” commitment to keeping this treasured tradition alive for future generations to enjoy. We each have our strengths and weaknesses, life experiences, and passions that we bring to the planning table. This year we have an unprecedented 15 activity planning teams made up of community volunteers chaired by a board member or myself. Each team has a single purpose: to successfully produce Cottage Grove’s biggest party of the year that creates thousands of smiles and treasured memories with family and friends!
Theme: Diamonds in the Rough. According to party planners, the 60th anniversary stone is a white diamond. So we fashioned our theme around it to honor all the many “rough diamonds” that have made The Grove what it is today. The Bohemia City Players, under the direction of Jennifer Mandeville-Schulz, will highlight the life of the most famous one: Opal Whiteley.
This year we have partnered with the Singing Creek Educational Center (SCEC), that now makes its home in the historic Dr. Snapp House on South River Road, to provide a Living History Village in our Kid's Zone area. It will be a “must-see” attraction this year. Among the activities it offers will be creating Opal’s fairy houses, corn dolls, clothes washing (on a wash board), 19th-Century era midway games, and Banjo, a picture painting horse!
Bohemia Mining Days is recognized by the State of Oregon as an Oregon Heritage Tradition, offering three days of family-friendly fun. There will be lots to see and do: three parades, live entertainment, a train to transport you into the past (on Friday & Saturday only), themed meals, a carnival, a zip line, a Civil War encampment in Trailhead Park, and 80+ vendors. The unique Slabtown vs. Lemati Feud returns for the 8th year. It offers free old-timey games for children and adults that include cash. It’s fun to watch (and participate) as Slabtowners and Lematians wage a spirited battle for the most points to claim another Feud victory!
Honoring the past: I spent most of a month going through the files we inherited looking for past events to bring back to celebrate our 60th anniversary. Here they are: Art Show, Hairy Leg Contest, Native American storytelling, Ugly Dog Contest, & Victorian Tea. Our Bohemia City Marshal, City Councilor Bob Ehler, and his deputies will be keeping the peace in our town, however… we’ve heard rumors that Mayor Jeff Gowing is rounding up a remnant of the notorious Lemati Gang to make an appearance in Saturday’s Grand Miners Parade.
Join In: Through the years I’ve been a participant, volunteer, board member, and now festival coordinator. I hope you will help me ensure the continued success of this fun, memory-making festival by becoming a sponsor, a vendor, or a volunteer. Click on the Join In menu and select how you’d like to participate.
On a personal note: I’ve loved Bohemia Mining Days since my first one in 1980! I was a New Orleans “big city” girl transferring from Louisiana State to study broadcast journalism at the University of Oregon in the fall. My brand new boyfriend, Ralph Weeldreyer, took me on a date to attend his rural hometown’s annual celebration. That year, “Bohemia City” was located at the old Chambers Mill site (where the Hayden Homes subdivision is today). Sitting atop the Ferris wheel with my new beau’s arm around me, I had a bird’s eye view of the community I would soon adopt as my own. Our first kiss at the top of that carnival ride was one of many we would share again on the third Saturday of each July. I simply love this summer tradition we share!
(The Hat Lady)