Plans are in high gear for the 2021 Miners Jubilee weekend July 16, 17 and 18. The annual event, which was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, is expected to draw record crowds.
Shelly Cutler, executive director of the Baker County Chamber of Commerce, said the level of interest in this year’s Jubilee seems to be “extremely high.”
“I didn’t know for sure if folks would feel comfortable coming out, but the park is almost full with vendors,” Cutler said, referring to the food and craft vendors who will offer their wares at Geiser-Pollman Park. “I’m just so happy with the numbers that we have.”
Some vendors, however, do not feel comfortable returning just yet, so there are a few spots still available. Cutler said she has received several calls from people asking if the Jubilee is happening, leading her to believe that there will be a big boost in attendance this year.
Miners Jubilee celebrates Baker City’s gold mining heritage with music, food and entertainment. The influx of tourists, including former residents returning to attend high school class reunions, benefits motels, restaurants and other local businesses, which is why the cancellation of last year’s event was especially detrimental.
This year’s event will run similarly to how it has in the past, with activities in the park from 9 a.m to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday. The theme is “Friends in Gold Places,” which both recognizes the area’s gold mining history and plays on the words of the Garth Brooks song, “Friends in Low Places.”
There will be music all three days, entertainment for kids, the Lions Club annual breakfast on Friday and Saturday, the downtown parade on Saturday at 11 a.m., and the bronc riding competition Friday evening at the Fairgrounds, and bull riding Saturday evening.
“We’re going to try to continue with the same routine we had in the past and look to do some extended events next year when we really have no guidelines,” Cutler said.
Currently the county is at the lowest risk level, which puts some restrictions on attendance at outdoor gatherings. Oregon is on track to drop restrictions by the end of June, however, which would mean Miners Jubilee could potentially happen as it usually does. Cutler said the Chamber plans to have additional handwashing stations at the park, encourage one-way walking on the sidewalks, hand sanitizer at vendor booths, and masks if people want to wear them. However, attendees should be aware that not everyone will be wearing masks.
Planning for the Jubilee started in late January, although Cutler said she was uncertain back then whether or not the event would return after its one-year hiatus.
“We knew we had to put the pieces in motion so that if we were allowed to have it we could go,” she said. “I really think that this is going to be the first major event in Baker City.”
Cutler is looking forward to the increased tourist spending and visitor engagement, which will kickstart the county’s summer tourist season. She said the events are contingent on participation, so if folks would like to see a Miners Jubilee event return from the past, they should let her know by calling the Chamber at 541-523-5855.
“There’s not one business out here that couldn’t use an influx of revenue right now,” Cutler said. “I think we’re just so excited to go and do stuff again.”
Bull and Bronc Riding
Jason Mattox, who organizes the Baker City Bull and Bronc Riding competition that happens over the same weekend as Miners’ Jubilee, is also gearing up for a huge crowd at his event. He plans to follow whatever the CDC guidelines are at the time of the competition.
“Whatever we have to do we’ll make sure it’s done properly,” Mattox said. “We want to do a family fun event that people are used to seeing.”
Mattox has had to get creative over the pandemic, using the opportunity to livestream races instead of holding them in person with large crowds. The internet streaming platform has been met with so much enthusiasm that Mattox plans to continue airing the races even once life returns to normal.
“We’ve been tested with about everything you can do,” he said. “We’ve prided ourselves that we’ve been able to give these cowboys a place to go this whole time.”
Both the Bull & Bronc Riding events will award $25,000 to the top contestants. Tickets are available on the Baker City Bulls and Broncs Facebook page and at www.cctbullriding.com, and the livestream link will be posted as it gets closer as well. General admission tickets will be available in town.
“We will be airing this live so people all around the world can watch us,” Mattox said. “We’re just really ecstatic to keep this thing going for your town.”