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Bridge fest highlights beautiful fall weekend

Posted: Tuesday, Oct 9th, 2012

Cottage Grove’s Bohemia Park became a hub of activity under brilliant autumn skies this weekend.

The fun began early, with a company providing hot-air balloon rides for just $5 each to kick off the Oregon Covered Bridge Festival. Would-be balloon riders who arrived past 10 a.m. on Saturday or Sunday, however, left disappointed, as fuel to power the balloon ran out early under high demand both days.

The Festival featured a line of vendor booths on the east end of the park, which also included a display organized by Larry Fast that featured half of his collection of antique bicycles and tricycles.

The stars of the show, however, may well have been the bridges themselves, which tour groups of 37 and 14 visitors signed up to visit on Saturday. Tour guide Lexie Simpson said attendees of the first tour benefited from and enjoyed the presence and insight of renowned Cottage Grove historian Marcia Allen. Allen told the story of how the bridges were saved through legislation in the 1970s.

The second tour group on Saturday afternoon featured a couple from Utah and visitors from Sacramento, Portland and Eugene in its ranks. Many said they had learned about the festival from Oregon Public Broadcasting, though Cottage Grove residents were also in attendance.

The tour first visited the Chambers Railroad Bridge and Centennial footbridge in town before seeing the Mosby Creek, Currin, Dorena and Layng Creek bridges. When polled about their favorites, tour participants singled out the Dorena and Chambers bridges. All of the participants said the history told by the bridges drew them to the structures and the festival.

Other popular attractions at the festival proved to be the Punkin’ Chunkin,’ which found homemade wooden catapults hurling pumpkins high in the air, to the delight and the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ of the gathered crowd. Results of a bridges-themed poetry contest were also announced, and the winners read their works to the audience.

Visitors to Bohemia Park Saturday were also able to take in the atmosphere at the Bohemia Park amphitheater, for which a ribbon of dedication was cut at 10 a.m. The event celebrated the completion of the pond at the park’s center, in addition to the amphitheater’s terraced seating and stage foundation and the park’s restroom facilities.

Faye Stewart, who represents the Bohemia Foundation, which has overseen and envisioned the park’s construction, was on hand to cut the ribbon Saturday. Stewart said he was overwhelmed at the community support for the park, adding that the 15-year process of its construction to present had begun with his great-uncle Stub Stewart. The 14 acres that now host the park originally sat as an abandoned rail yard.

Stewart thanked the Ford Family and Woodard Family Foundations for their contributions to the park. He also mentioned Wildish Construction, which donated time and materials to construction; Lincoln Middle School’s students, who cleaned up the park as part of their Day of Caring event last spring; Gray’s Garden Center for donations and other contributors.

“Today we celebrate another milestone in the history of Cottage Grove,” said Mayor Gary Williams. “The city is truly blessed to have this park today, tomorrow and for many years to come.”

Stewart stated that construction will continue on the park, which will also boast playground equipment, lighting throughout the park for night use, an exercise station and an electrified stage structure at the amphitheater to allow the community to host “premier events.” Plans also include the development of a museum and plaza on the north end of the park. A cook preparation station and fireplace will also be added to the pavilion at the south end of the park.

Stewart said the park is open for private events. The City of Cottage Grove is in charge of scheduling, he said, and a call placed to the City will start the process of securing the park for an event. So far, fees are not being charged for events held there, he said.

For the complete article see the 10-10-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-10-2012 paper.

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