Cottage Grove tourism hinges on history, heart

COTTAGE GROVE – You came for the celebration, now stay for the town.

That just may be the most appropriate slogan for last week’s Bohemia Mining Days as well as the unofficial motto of one of Lane County’s best-kept secrets: Cottage Grove.

For while thousands of people streamed into the city to attend this year’s celebration and witness first-ever events like Miss Bohemia City, along with ore cart races and a parade, town leaders are not just patting themselves on the back for a job well done.

“We believe that getting as many people as possible to come and celebrate Bohemia Mining Days is going to have a ripple effect throughout the future,” said this year’s new festival director, Scott Borgioli. “This is the city’s biggest event of the year, and we truly believe it’s going to help put the city on the map.”

For Chalice Savage, a member of the Cottage Grove City Council and a board member of the chamber of commerce, the town has so much to offer the other 362 days a year. “Oh, my goodness! We have so many assets in Cottage Grove that are truly spectacular,” she said with obvious exuberance. “Two wonderful lakes, waterfalls, natural beauty, and true and important history that anyone would love to learn about are all right here.”

Savage, when she can find the time, is also part of the leadership team for a new entity called the Fun! Company, launching soon, that will help promote and expand on the amenities in Cottage Grove. “We will be offering guided tours of historic downtown as well as the historic museums,” she said. “People don’t realize how much history is right here – from when Buster Keaton stayed at the Cottage Grove Hotel to our museum displaying the coat worn by Cottage Grove resident Marion Wright Woolcott when she was rescued from the Titanic.”

Of course, having the three-day celebration, which drew thousands of visitors last weekend during mild weather, created a great launch pad for further tourism. That’s one of the reasons why Cottage Grove leadership put so much effort and emphasis on Bohemia Mining Days 2022.

“This was really our comeback year due to the pandemic,” Borgioli said. “We really wanted to hit a home run, and so we assembled a very impressive team of talented professionals to create a festive, safe, and community-focused atmosphere. And I couldn’t be happier with the people we put in place. The bottom line is that the entire community really stepped up to give the town what it needed.”

Shauna Neigh, CEO of the chamber of commerce, has been taking a very holistic approach to marketing the tourist amenities of Cottage Grove and believes both large and small efforts pay off. “Bohemia Mining Days is, of course, our huge event for the year, but we’ve been doing so much work with local press and with Travel Lane County to really get the word out about what we have,” she said. “We keep seeing record attendance for the celebration, and we are definitely seeing an uptick in visitors during the rest of the year. Really, there is so much here for people to enjoy.”

Savage believes that Cottage Grove can punch above its weight when it comes to tourism. “Really, I believe that Cottage Grove is a little town with a big heart, and people see that when they visit,” she said. “We are small but mighty, old school but modern. We really have something for everyone!”

So, if you enjoyed the great food, the magic acts, the kids zone, Little Miss Bohemia City, the ore cart races, the Helena Saloon, and more at last weekend’s celebration, remember: Cottage Grove is more than a weekend festival – it’s a historic town that is ready for its moment in the 21st century.



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