One month from now, Bohemia Mining Days returns to Cottage Grove’s historic downtown for two days. As the severe COVID-19 restrictions we’ve been living with for the past 15 months are now lifting, BMD 2021 affords us the opportunity to come back together as survivors of a deadly global pandemic and learn to accept a new normal in how we go forward with our lives.
“Grovers are Survivors” is the theme we’ve chosen for this year. We all have our survivor stories to share. For Bohemia Mining Days, our festival sponsors still made their annual contributions that financially “kept the lights on” for us. Planning BMD 2021 has been quite the challenge for our board and production team. Since January, we’ve remained positive and determined to continue our efforts as the risk levels went up and down. We also faced the real possibility that two weeks after all the Fourth of July celebrations a serious spike in COVID cases might force us to cancel our event at the last minute. With high vaccination rates now the threat of cancelling the event is low.
Why the move downtown?
The Coiner Park venue is too small to space 75+ vendor booths six feet apart and leave room for attendees to maintain the required social distance. Relocating Cottage Grove’s largest event of the year downtown spreads it out across eight city blocks to give us safety space and it creates the potential for an economic boost to business owners.
Our hope is locals and out-of-town guests discover a unique treasure in one of our small specialty shops, enjoy dining in one of the downtown eateries, or throw back a cold one on a hot day in one of the watering holes in The District. These downtown businesses are familiar to Grovers as they regularly drive by them on their way to somewhere else. This year, BMD gives them a purpose to stop and enjoy them.
Another reason for the move downtown is to respond to the hundreds of attendees who remember BMD’s longtime roots there and have asked us, in surveys and on social media, to come back. Who knew it would, sadly, take a global pandemic to fulfill their request? In 1980, after 21 years downtown, the celebration grew so big, Bohemia City had to move to various larger venues before settling comfortably in Coiner Park. The last time BMD was staged downtown was in 1999 for its 40th anniversary celebration.
Mine Ore Cart Races
With only a month to go we absolutely need more racers to make this first year both fun and successful. We believe it is a unique opportunity to pair up our young whippersnappers with our old-timers. The young ones will set the record of race times in this new competition all others have to beat. The experienced builders, with a workshop or garage, will build the fastest carts. Cart materials can be reinforced cardboard, scrap wood, or metal with flames and a powder coat finish. The minimum construction safety standards leave much to imagination and creativity.
We are happy to match up willing builders and wannabe racers, so we have lots of competitors on Main Street on the third weekend of July for this inaugural race. To make your match and to get help with cart construction, call Dick Secord at 541.942.7138 or visit the Bohemia Gold Mining Museum (red barn across from Bohemia Park) on Thursdays between 1-4 pm.
After more than a year of being apart for health and safety reasons, let’s pour out our pent-up desire for fun by participating in this newest Bohemia Mining Days tradition. Throw down a challenge to your competitive friends, family members and co-workers. Let’s see some green and yellow carts squaring off against black and orange ones. We encourage businesses and organizations to field a promotional team using a cart emblazoned with their business name.
One of the most important lessons we’ve learned from COVID-19’s impact on our organization is how utterly dependent we are on a three-day event to provide a year’s worth of administrative and program revenue. So, we are trying a few new fundraisers to diversify our revenue streams in the future.
Transitioning our Slabtown vs. Lemati Feud into a hybrid online/real world virtual game is a unique strategy to bring our community back together and seek fun ways to deliver a spectacular BMD 2022. The Food Feud is our yummy new money-maker. Inspired by the Food for Lane County annual Grilled Cheese Experience, we are partnering with local eateries to provide “a passport to culinary adventures” during July 6-20.
To join in the fun go to our website: www.BohemiaMiningDays.org.
There you can download applications to be a vendor or to volunteer, to enter the Grand Miners parade, to register for the Mine Ore Cart Races, to participate in the Food Feud or to learn how The Feud Game is designed to bring our community back together in healthy ways after a global pandemic.
BMD is back! We thank Sentinel readers for choosing Bohemia Mining Days as the most missed community event in 2020. On behalf of the Board, and our BMD 2021 Production Team, we invite you to participate in all the fun we have waiting for you on July 17-18 in historic downtown Cottage Grove.
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