Slabtown beats Lemati 280-274 to win the BMD 2012 Feud
BMD organizers declared the new interactive feature, The Feud: Slabtown vs. Lemati, a success based on the nearly 300 participants of all ages who competed and on the entertainment value it provided for spectators. For four days Slabtowners and Lematians battled it out to win a year’s worth of bragging rights – and the newly created BMD Rock Trophy.
Cottage Grove City Councilor Jake Boone is in his second year on the BMD Board. As part of a reorganization of the board in early 2012, he was elected board president. As a history lover he has a particular passion for the Victorian Era and for Cottage Grove’s colorful history. The Slabtown/Lemati Feud is his brainchild and was embraced by the entire board as a way of keeping Cottage Grove’s colorful 19th Century history alive in the 21st Century.
For six years, from 1893 to 1899, the frontier town of Cottage Grove was legally split into two separate cities. The original white settlement sprang up on the west side of the Coast Fork of the Willamette River and was nicknamed “Slabtown” for the giant old growth fir planks that formed streets and sidewalks to make it less muddy to get from one place to another.
The east side of the river, where the Downtown Historic District is today, was sparsely populated due to annual spring floods -- until 1873 when the railroad came through that part of town. The original dirt path that led east from "Slabtown" to the depot eventually became Main Street as commercial enterprises sprang up to be closer to the railroad.
In 1887, the rapidly growing town on both sides of the river incorporated as the City of Cottage Grove, however animosity began almost immediately. Fresh water was essential to accommodate all the new growth. The West Siders piped their water from City Creek and Bennett Creek but voted down a measure that would allow the East Siders to develop a water system to serve their side of town.
City Council meetings became a political battleground between the two factions until finally the East Siders grew tired of being labeled “East Cottage Grove” and decided to go it alone by traveling to Salem and successfully petitioning the Legislature to create the City of Lemati, against the protests of the West Siders, who also appeared in Salem to argue against the split.
According to the Cottage Grove Historical Society the official pronunciation of Lemati is “Lem-ah-tie – not Lah-mah-tee.” Ironically, it is a Kalapuya Indian word meaning “peaceful valley.”
Local history books detail all the shenanigans that went on tit-for-tat between the two cities, including the theft of the post office back and forth across the river and a judicial ruling that forced Lemati to return the Cottage Grove city ledger – but there were pages ripped out.
After more than a half century, for the 53rd annual festival the current board wanted to introduce an interactive feature intended to build a friendly but intense competition between residents on the opposite sides of the river. After months of detailed planning and securing sponsors for each of the 20 contests, Boone said festival organizers were pleased overall with the results.
There were three age categories in The Feud: Whippersnappers (12-year-olds and younger), Greenhorns (13-17-year-olds), and Old Coots (18+ years old).
“It was a huge learning experience for us,” a very tired and hoarse-sounding Boone said on Sunday night. “We achieved our goal with a lot of people having a lot of fun. What we learned will be used to make next year even better.”
Boone said throughout the festival Lemati had a widening lead until a surge of Slabtown participants in the Sunday contests put the Slabtowners over the top. The final score was Slabtown 280 and Lemati 274. He noted that The Feud Rock Trophy will be on display for the next year at the Cottage Grove Historical Museum in the heart of Slabtown.
Two local youth earned the most points and won the honor of becoming mayor of their respective town. Boone bestowed Slabtown Mayor Orr Reve (right) and Lemati Mayor Larissa Richey (left) the title of mayor and adorned them with a top hat, a mayoral sash and a cash honorarium. Their names will appear on the traveling Rock Trophy below the names of the two original mayors.
“Slabtown Mayor Reve will be invited serve as the 2013 Grand Marshal of the Grand Miner’s Parade and will be accorded all the respect and honor due to such a worthy example of the best that the Bohemia region has to offer,” Boone said.
The Bohemia Deputies Contest was open to Whippersnappers who were given a plastic deputy badge that pinned a scorecard to their outfit. They spent all day Saturday roaming Bohemia City hunting and arresting notorious villains who appeared on antique-looking wanted posters displayed throughout the park. A random drawing of completed scorecards resulted in two youth being elected sheriff of their respective towns.
Boone presented a real sheriff’s badge upon Lemati Sheriff Gabby Braden (left) and Slabtown Sheriff Nikola Sušec (right), and invited them to also be honored in next year’s parade.
“The board and festival volunteers were fantastic and crucial to the success of this year’s festival,” Boone said. “On Thursday the board will meet with Interim Festival Coordinator Sharon Jean and new Festival Coordinator Heather Campbell to conduct a post mortem on this year’s festival. We invite people to tell us what they liked and disliked about BMD.”
Send comments to email@example.com or call the BMD Office at 541-942-5064.