COTTAGE GROVE — The good news: Bohemia Mining Days is set for July 13-15, after fundraising efforts and a generous anonymous donor pulled through to help cover the festival’s substantial budget deficit.
The bad news: If BMD coordinators can’t find a viable partner to split expenses with by next year, they are certain 2023 will be the last year for the celebration. Now, the BMD coordinators are eyeing the City as the festival’s saving grace.
“If we do not get City support next year, there will be no Bohemia Mining Days next year,” said Scott Borgioli, BMD executive director. “I can tell you that with 100% certainty.”
In April, festival coordinators made a desperate plea with its community to help cover expenses, citing a budget shortfall of $35,000.
For 64 years, BMD has been paying homage to Cottage Grove’s mining history with a three-day family-friendly festival full of ore carts, prospecters, bloomers, and root beer saloons. The festival is funded solely by sponsorship donations from the community. At minimum, it costs $79,889 to produce the festival each year, according to the festival’s budget.
“That is a bare-bones budget. There’s not anything that we cut,” he said.
It’s never been sustainable, Borgioli said, and now, post-COVID, those costs are greater than ever.
“I don’t think it’s going to continue. BMD is and has been unsustainable, especially in recent years because of increased costs of basically doing business,” Borgioli said.
He said costs have gone up significantly post-COVID, noting that security has gone up $3,000 alone.
“Inflation has hit us undoubtedly,” he said. “And we’re not getting any stronger donations from the community. People are tightening up their pocketbooks due to the possible looming recession and hard economic times.”
BMD lives this year as a result of fundraising efforts that brought in $20,000 since the April plea, and one anonymous donor that gave $15,000, Borgioli said. BMD fundraised the money by contacting nearly all local businesses for sponsorship.
BMD had approximately $30,000 in the pot at the beginning of the year after all expenses were paid following last year’s festival, which was surplus from an American Rescue COVID grant, he said. “Historically, it is extremely rare for BMD to have anything more than $10,000 left at the conclusion of the festival. Usually it’s $5,000 to $9,000. That’s how close it comes each year for a make-it-or-break-it festival.”
In an outreach for financial stability, Borgioli at the May Budget Committee meeting requested that the City consider adding BMD costs to the City’s budget. He asked that half of the festival’s nearly $80,000 budget be covered by the City, leaving the remaining balance to be covered by BMD fundraising efforts in upcoming years.
“Bohemia Mining Days is the biggest single draw of people into Cottage Grove. It puts Cottage Grove on the map,” Borgioli siad. “This should be a no-brainer for the City.”
The Budget Committee did not take any action on the request; instead, it will be up for council consideration at the June 26 city council meeting when the annual budget is up for adoption, said Richard Meyers, city manager.
“They’re asking for half of their budget. It’s a little overwhelming for the Budget Committee,” Meyers said.
Additionally, he said the timing is off. The City’s annual budget expires each June, leaving the BMD July event just out of range for budget consideration for next year’s event.
Even so, he says that while the City is not a “sponsor,” the City already has skin in the game by way of “in-kind” donations that average between $25,000 and $30,000 annually.
“There’s already a bunch of equipment and infrastructure they’re not paying for,” Meyers said.
Those in-kind donations look like the use of generators to power electricity at the parks, which Meyers estimates at $20,000. The City also covers the cost of electricity used during the festival. It also lends out its golf carts, barricades, road signs, canopies, and also covers the costs to “rebuild the park” after the sprinklers have been turned off for a few days and foot traffic messies the property, Meyers said.
What’s more, BMD coordinators would have to prove “heads and beds” in order to qualify for rural tourism money, which the City collects each year through Lane County’s Rural Tourism Marketing Plan.
“It’d have to be demonstrated and shown that tourists that are going to come, stay, and spend money in the community — not come to the event and buy elephant ears and a new belt buckle from a vendor that’s not from the community,” he said.
He said the City receives nearly $34,000 for tourism-related expenses, and money is spread across multiple factions, from advertising in travel magazines to a recent women’s bowling championship event.
It is untested how much tourism is being brought in during the three-day annual event, he said.
Logistics and an unknown future aside, Borgioli is pleased that this year’s festival is “100% planned out.” With 63 vendors and more still signing up, an expanded Kid’s Zone, movie nights, a strong lineup of local bands, and the return of the beloved ore cart races and miner’s parade, he feels confident this year’s event will be a hit.
“I just want people to be happy and have a venue where everybody can relax and enjoy themselves,” he said. “I want people to walk away in better spirits than what they were in before the festival. That’s my goal. And if that has occurred, then to me it’s worth it.”
BMD is still in need of 25 volunteers to ensure a smoothly running event. To sign up, visit BohemiaMiningDays.org.
Event details on the upcoming festival will be reported in an upcoming edition of The Chronicle.