Chamber projects tap into CG history, heritage sites

The banners, created by local artist Heather Endicott, represent spring, summer and fall in their color schemes and feature the Chambers Covered Bridge, Cottage Grove Armory and Cottage Grove Museum, respectively.

Sifting through Cottage Grove’s rich history and heritage is a familiar hobby for many in the community.

Recently, the Chamber of Commerce’s Tourism Committee has been hard at work finding ways to promote such interests for residents and tourists alike.

“The committee works on promoting all the positive aspects of Cottage Grove to tourists along the I-5 corridor and further beyond,” said Stephen Lawn, chair of the Tourism Committee. “We even reach out to Eugene-Springfield.”

One recent project has been the Explore Cottage Grove video series, which is offering virtual tours of Cottage Grove attractions.

The idea for the video series came about from the committee’s discussions around the concepts of self-guided tours and PBS-style travel shows.

Tapping into local resources like the Cottage Grove Historical Society and the Cottage Grove Museum, members put together a script.

“We wrote the narrative of it and worked it out — but found out it’s a lot harder to make,” Lawn laughed. “We were going to start with, like, three- to five-minute videos, and now they’re going run about eight to 10. It’s hard to get all that information in a short span.”

Currently, only one video about covered bridges is available online.

Hosted by local theater actor Kory Weimer, the virtual bridge tour recounts a brief history of Oregon’s covered bridges before directing viewers through a scenic trip by Dorena, Stewart, Mosby Creek, Currin, Chambers and Centennial covered bridges.

“It was designed to kind of provide information that even local residents could get on and go, ‘Okay, that’s, that’s kind of cool,’” said Lawn, who also directed the video.

The other videos will feature the Historic Downtown District and the historic northwest neighborhood and are currently in the editing process.

By the end of the month, Lawn said he aims to wrap up filming for another video about biking on the Row River Trail as well.

In a separate promotional project, there’s also been some new color added to downtown.

City of Cottage Grove staff recently completed the installation of the Cottage Grove Heritage Banners in the Historic Downtown District. The banners were commissioned by the Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce to promote three of the city’s heritage offerings to tourists and residents.

Representing three seasons, a green spring banner features the Chambers Covered Bridge, a blue summer banner features the Cottage Grove Armory and a bright, red fall banner features the Cottage Grove Museum.

The banners are a seasonal feature, though, coming down when the downtown Christmas lights go up. Following Hearts on Main Street in February, the banners return for the tourism season.

“So just when tourists come to town, it’s going to be a little more art and just another step toward beautification,” said Lawn.

Lawn was excited for the opportunity to work with locals on the project. The banner images of Cottage Grove heritage sites are original watercolor paintings created by local artist Heather Endicott specifically for the project.

“I cannot stress enough the value of working with local talent on these projects and the help we receive from strategic partners like the City of Cottage Grove, all of the local museums and societies, local sponsors and Travel Lane County,” he said.

Production was local, too, using Dirt Cheap Copies.

The project was funded by a grant from the Lane County Cultural Coalition and volunteer efforts of the Chamber’s Tourism Committee.

There are other items on Lawn’s tourism wish list. Lawn is planning to attend a presentation on traveling with hearing loss in order to find new ways to accommodate people the hearing impaired. He said he would also like to see recognition of native peoples in the area.

“You know, not have our heritage start at 1853. Have it go back a little further,” he said.

New projects will ideally broaden the scope and availability of what Cottage Grove has to offer.

“That’s kind of our goal with the tourism committee is to bring people into town to stay a little while checking everything out,” Lawn said. “The bottom line is Cottage Grove is a real gem … We may take it for granted, living here with what we have. Hopefully, people that lived here a long time can learn a little more, and definitely we can have people come and visit and see what a great community it is.”

The tourism committee is also hoping these projects will pay off for the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene next July.

“We want to have a lot of forward-facing opportunities for people to check out Cottage Grove and see what it’s about and have some blogs and digital opportunities for them to explore a little more,” said Lawn. “So, in the perfect world all our efforts, brochures, videos, the banners and even more will be in place for hopefully a more robust tourism season in 2022. We’ll see how that all plays out, but definitely take advantage of that the opportunity with eyes on Lane County for the World Athletics games to make sure Cottage Grove is part of that exposure.”

The covered bridge virtual tour is available on the Chamber’s website at www.cgchamber.com.

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