ELKTON — The Labor Day weekend in Elkton means the celebration of Fort Umpqua Days, and the colorful and historic past of the region.
The community has a wide range of historically-themed activities at the Elkton Community Education Center planned for the weekend.
The events are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 2-3 at the community center and are centered around the re-building of Fort Umpqua, which has been constructed over the last nine years to replicate what the fort looked like in the early days of the settlers that came to the area.
The site is about a mile from where the original fort was located. It was the southernmost outpost of the Hudson Bay Company and represented the British claim on the Oregon Territory during the western expansion.
The original location of the fort was just down river on the south shore and stood from 1836 to 1851. But today’s re-creation allows visitors to see what the post would have looked like. There is a lot of Oregon history here.
“We’re really focusing on the local history, and the event really focuses around Fort Umpqua,” said Marjory Hamann, executive director of the center. “And a lot of folks that may have visited the Fort Umpqua five or six years ago will find there are a lot of new displays now.”
Adults and teenagers will be at the fort in period costume, operating spinning wheels and weaving looms, and putting on cooking demonstrations and other pioneer-type activities, to give a glimpse of what life was like in the early days of Elkton.
To highlight the world class bass fishing on the Umpqua River, the annual two-day bass tournament for drift boaters runs Saturday and Sunday, with prizes awarded to three person teams for the biggest bass caught during the tournament. About 15 teams compete in the event each year.
One of the highlights of the weekend, is always the Fort Umpqua Days parade at 10 a.m. Saturday morning. It takes over downtown Elkton, with a long line of trucks, classic cars, horses, and other animals, and winds through town and out to the center’s grounds.
The “Echoes of the Umpqua, the Original” is a musical play that is one of the highlights of Fort Umpqua Days, at 5:00 p.m. each day in the ECEC amphitheater. The show features about 100 community members who write, compose music, perform, and direct the production.
“It is a musical play so local folks will perform and sing,” Hamann said. “I love the musical because I think it is the ideal picture of small town Oregon and a small town that’s thriving. You really get this strong sense of community and how much love, skill and talent went into developing it and performing.”
Officials expect 25 to 30 vendors with arts and crafts, souvenirs and food that will be set up on the grounds.
Visitors can hear music on the greenhouse patio both days from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Contra Swings returns on Saturday. On Sunday, the musical entertainment will be The Slow Ponies, an all-woman band specializing in cowgirl tunes and songs of the Silver Screen era.
The Lions Club will have it’s pancake breakfast at 7 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday, and the popular pie auction is at 1 p.m. Saturday on the patio.
The Outpost Cafe is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, for ice cream, coffee, drinks or a family meal.
The Butterfly Pavillion will be active with lots of the bright colored monarch butterflies on display.
“We raise the monarch butterflies and over the Labor Day weekend we start releasing them, so people can come and adopt a butterfly,” Hamann said.
There is no charge to get in, but being a nonprofit, donations are accepted to help with the expenses.
Hamann says there is something there for everyone to enjoy during Fort Umpqua Days.
“All of the activities at the fort are designed with families in mind, so people can get a little taste of what life was like in the mid 1800s,” she said.
For more information call 541-584-2692.