Business & Development, Cottage Grove

Play your way into the new year at ‘Gamesquall’

Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Lodge #68. Photo provided

COTTAGE GROVE – If you have ever wondered about the lighted sign bearing the letters ”I.O.O.F.” with three interlocking links on Main Street, you are not alone.
That building, the Cottage Grove Independent Order of Odd Fellows #68, will be open on New Year’s Eve to gather and game with friends, and make new ones for ”Gamesquall,” a gaming evening of epic proportions.
Gamesquall is modeled after a much larger and expensive gaming experience held annually in Portland, a gaming convention called ”Gamestorm.” While the local version offers no pool, scheduling system, dealers’ room, celebrities or other glitz, this ”poor man’s edition” has much that ”Portlandia” can only dream of – like the word ”free,” including parking and entrance.
What kind of games are we talking about? Board games, card games, miniature and roleplaying games will all be fair play at this convention.
”If you think board games haven’t advanced since ‘Monopoly,’ you should be pleasantly surprised,” said Jake Boone, city councilor and self-proclaimed,”disorganizer” of the event. Boone said that over 100 gamers participated last year.
Bring your favorite game to share with the group, or browse through the rather impressive Gamesquall collection that has up to 500 games to choose from.
Bring some snacks or treats to share with other gamers (it is hoped that you would be nice and not try and play games with greasy chicken fingers though). Whatever folks bring for a sort of ”snackluck” will be available; there are also some nice places to grab a sitdown meal, including on Main Street near the hall.
Gamesquall happening on a Tuesday is an exception. Regular game days are on the first Sunday of each month, noon to 7 p.m. at the lodge, but in a break from the regularly-scheduled first Sunday gaming session, this large event is planned with the theme of gaming yourself into the New Year. And what better time to choose to ”roll the dice?”
The doors open at noon on Dec. 31 and the action will continue until eyes start to glaze over on New Year’s morning around 2 a.m. For more information, check out the website:
Attending Gamesquall is also a chance to get a peek at one of the more impressive building interiors in Cottage Grove. The Grand Hall harkens back to a bygone day when fraternal organizations played a large part in the community life, of not just Cottage Grove, but most of America.
When the United States began changing from a farm-based economy due to the Industrial Revolution, fraternal organizations began to flower. In the time known as the ”Golden Age of Fraternalism,” many organizations that served both a social and a mutual aid function formed – particularly once the American Civil War-era groups such as the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, Patrons of Husbandry (the Grange), Woodmen of the World and the Loyal Order of the Moose came into being.
These younger organizations were not as exclusionary as the older Masons and Odd Fellows, which they modeled themselves after. Older accounts of Cottage Grove history mention Knights of the Maccabees, Royal Neighbors, Red Men, Foresters and the Rathbone Sisters as active lodge organizations in town.
The Fir Grove Cemetery was founded in 1869 by the Ancient Free & Accepted Masons Lodge #51 and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of Oregon Lodge #68. It is still a tenet of the Odd Fellows to keep this historic command for its members as part of its doctrine: ”Visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan.”
Membership in a lodge was a passport to acceptance, employment and assistance in hard times as well as a place for social activity. What made the Odd Fellows unique was their early acceptance of female members. In 1851, the Rebekah degree was adopted at the urging of Schuyler Colfax, who was to be vice president under Ulysses S. Grant.
While once the largest fraternal organization, numbering over a million members, membership in the Odd Fellows has declined. But there is still an active core of members dedicated to the principles of Friendship, Love and Truth in the local lodge. If you would like to meet them and learn more about this noble organization and the work they still do, you are invited to the social night at 7:30 p.m. every third Thursday at the lodge.
Whether you are gaming hard on New Year’s Eve or having a quiet, reflective moment, here is wishing you a joyous and successful 2020. And don’t get even, get ODD!

Dana Merryday is a weekly Chronicle contributor for all things Cottage Grove. He can be contacted at [email protected].



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