Community, Cottage Grove

‘Spirit of Bohemia Mining Days’ alive and well three weeks out from makeshift event

COTTAGE GROVE – When the Bohemia Mining Days board decided to cancel the event for 2024, Matthew Hewlett, a BMD board member at the time, asked for permission to put on his own event.

His original idea was to just put the jail cell in Coiner Park to take people’s photos, which is how he got his start with BMD back in 2019, but the event quickly snowballed into recreating BMD through Spirit of BMD.

“I just want to show my gratitude to the citizens of Cottage Grove for being so supportive, not just financially, but also emotionally, because this is a big undertaking, and it’s one of our town’s favorite events, and I’m stoked that it’s going along as well as it is,” he said.

This tribute event is bringing many former BMD members out of retirement and back in action.

“We have an experienced production team of former area coordinators who have happily returned to pull off this planning miracle,” said Cindy Weeldreyer, Spirit of BMD Fundraising/Bohemia Nugget coordinator who was a rather active BMD member from 2003-2021. “The multitude of details for an event this size are quickly falling into place so Grovers can celebrate Bohemia Mining Days’ 65th Birthday in Coiner Park on its traditional third weekend of July.”

Kenneth Roberts, a longtime Grover who recently moved to Lostine, will be returning to Cottage Grove to reprise his role as the event’s marshal. This former city councilor said he’s “really looking forward to coming home” and gaining some “closure” because he moved away so quickly all while celebrating the town’s rich history.

Former BMD president from 1979-1984 Don Williams came out of retirement to assist the post-COVID event efforts in 2021 when there were just six weeks for the team to get BMD together – 2024 is proving to be quite a similar experience. Also with just six weeks to get an event together, Williams is advising the Spirit of BMD team, as the celebration advisor, on how to run a successful event.

He emphasized the importance of Cottage Grove’s yearly summer celebration of its history and heritage.

“It’s heartwarming to have a 40-year-old woman come up with her kids and say that she’s attended each Bohemia Mining Days since she was 6 years old, and how she looks forward to it. That happens often,” Williams said. “There’s many people who are born and raised in Cottage Grove who express that to BMD leaders during the event.”

He added that he’s a big believer in “nurturing our culture” and recognizing the Grove’s past.

“It’s kinda like friendships. If you have a good friend, you have to work at that because good friends can drift apart. Somebody has to nurture that and make that effort to continue contact, to keep that friendship alive,” he said. “(BMD) is (consistent) enjoyment in our culture.”

One difference between BMD and the Spirit of BMD is how it handles parades. Spirit of BMD was not originally going to hold any of the parades, but an influx of community interest brought on some new volunteers to help make it happen. There will only be one parade this year, the Grand Miners Parade, and it will be held July 20 at 10 a.m.

The group hopes to raise about $35,000 to put on Spirit of BMD, and there has already been just over $25,000 donated by donors to support the event. Weeldreyer added that there have been plenty of community donations like Starfire Lumber’s $15,000 donation and Woodard Family Foundation’s $7,500 donation.

“Right now, it looks promising that we’re going to be able to fund everything the way we need to, but everything we’re doing with the money after this is going toward the future of Bohemia Mining Days,” Hewlett said.

He said the Bohemia Heritage Association is Spirit of BMD’s fiscal sponsor so Bohemia Mining Days Inc. will be able to access any extra money generated this year.

Spirit of BMD is still looking for more volunteers. Reach out to the Spirit of BMD team through the contact information on its website or via Facebook.



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