BMD organizers offer cart races, new events, with full return of annual festival

RYLEIGH NORGROVE/ CHRONICLE PHOTO ON THE COVER. Acting Bohemia City Marshall Kenneth Michael Roberts and Festival Coordinator Scott Borgioli swore in Bohemia Cities’ first female deputy marshall, Christina Hester.

COTTAGE GROVE – Bohemia Mining Days is rushing into Cottage Grove this summer – and it’s bigger than ever. “We want everyone to have plenty of good old-fashioned fun. That’s the name of the game,” Festival Coordinator Scott Borgioli said. 

The festival is ready to be back in action after a series of modified festivals during the COVID pandemic. 

“With COVID barring BMD in 2020, last year’s Bohemia Mining Days was significantly scaled back and held downtown Cottage Grove. It’s been three years since we last had a full-out Bohemia Mining Days,” Borgioli said. “This year we’re back in Coiner Park, with a carnival, plenty of food and vendors and tons of entertainment.” Borgioli is bringing in a swath of new events, from the inaugural Li’l Miss, Miss, Ms. Bohemia City Contests to free root beer floats for kids down at Helena’s Saloon. 

The event will be outside and maskless, which Borgioli points to as a big draw this year. “People want to get out. They’re tired of COVID. We’re just going to have fun and let loose and party like it’s 2019,” Borgioli said. 

This year, BMD organizers took a new approach to tradition, swearing in the first-ever lady deputy marshall, Christina Hester. 

RYLEIGH NORGROVE/THE CHRONICLE Festival coordinator Scott Borgioli, center, discusses BMD events during a news conference last week.

Hester was born in Cottage Grove, and moved away to “adventure and explore” before returning to her hometown. “It feels a little surreal,” said Hester. “Especially in a festival that celebrates the town and the region’s history. A lot of the flashy roles are typically occupied historically by men, so I’m thrilled to be introducing some female energy to those roles.” At her official swearing-in ceremony last week in Coiner Park, Hester swore an oath to “withhold the laws of Bohemia city” and “protect its citizens.” 

“I’m the type of person, I like to bring the community together and inspire. And I think Christina is going to inspire others. She fits the role perfectly. She’s opening up a new door for Bohemia Mining days,” Borgioli said.  

Cameron Reiten, entertainment and sound coordinator, filled onlookers in on the music lineup for this year. “We’ve invited a lot of the bands back that helped us out last year, and we’ve got some new faces as well,” Reiten said. “I don’t care if you like country, rock, bluegrass or Americana, we’re going to have it for you.” 

The 2nd annual Mine Ore Cart Races are scheduled to kick off at noon on Saturday, July 16 down 10th Street – where teams of three will have two “Miners” push a “Tommyknocker” in a cart for one block, load three, 20-pound sandbags into the cart before racing back to the starting line. “Last year at Bohemia Mining Days it was impressive to see that the Ore Kart Races were the biggest crowd attractor and people were lined up on the side of downtown, yelling and screaming and cheering on the contestants so forth. So this year, we wanted to make sure that that tradition continues,” Borgioli said. 

This year ground zero for all things Ore Carts will be the Bohemia Gold Mining Museum (BGMM). The museum will be open during the festival, showcasing real ore carts and other mining artifacts while learning of the colorful history of the Bohemia Mining District. “We’ve got cash money, we’ve got the honor. We got the thrills and spills on 10th Street on Friday, so be there, and keep an eye on the prize,” said Dana Merryday, Mine Ore Cart Races Coordinator.

Mine Ore Cart Races coordinator Dana Merrydayleft, and Dick Secord explain the history of ore carts in Cottage Grove.

Over the fun-filled weekend, there will also be a spirited re-enactment of the 19th century feud that inspired BMD. The Feud re-enactment celebrates the 1894-99 feud between 19th century pioneer settlers on each side of the Coast Fork of the Willamette River — Slabtown on the higher, west bank and Lemati (a Kalapuya word that means peaceful valley) on the lower, swampy east bank. Oregon Trail pioneers steeped in Christian values settled in Slabtown and the second-arriving, wealthier settlers on the Lemati. 

“So it ended up, where was the post office going to be: on the east side or the west side of the river? Where was the railroad depot going to go? Electricity, who gets it first?” Borgioli explained. 

Town founders ended the conflict after six years, eventually centering the city in Slabtown (so-named for its old-growth timber planks that allowed for horse and cart travel), which eventually accepted Lematians back into Cottage Grove. 

“It’s very much like the Duck-Beaver rivalry,” Borgioli said.

Bohemia Mining Days will be held across Cottage Grove on Thursday, July 14 through Saturday and coordinators are still seeking volunteers to help manage the rush, coordinate parking and are even offering paid opportunities for teen volunteers. “The team has been working countless hours behind the scenes to plan for a very safe and successful festival this year. I have no doubt that all the attendees will have fun!”



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