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Who's behind the Big Bang?

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Estacada Area Community Events has been running the show for the past few years


Since 1986, Dan Skoog has been involved in the Estacada Fourth of July celebration, but without his help, the event might never have lasted that long.

In 2005, Skoog was brought onto the board of the Estacada Chamber of Commerce, the organization that had assumed responsibility for the annual event. Unfortunately, that wasn't really what the chamber was designed to do.

Unable to operate as a true chamber of commerce while worrying about the Fourth of July event, the chamber had accumulated large debts that threatened the future of the fireworks display.

Needing to do something, Skoog recommended that the chamber give up control of the event to the newly formed nonprofit Estacada Area Community Events (EACE). In exchange, EACE would inherit the existing debts and would be in charge of all aspects of the Fourth of July aside from the parade, which would remain with the chamber.

"We needed to spin the Fourth out of the chamber so that they could go back to being the chamber," Skoog said. "We streamlined the chapter so that the Fourth wasn't their whole emphasis.

"We didn't want to see the fireworks go away, and they were having trouble paying for it."

Just after forming, EACE held its first event, a golf tournament fundraiser - an event that paid off all existing debts.

Now with a clean slate, EACE set out to do everything it could to improve the existing festivities, from adding more fireworks to adding more activities.

One problem for the group was the location. In 2004 the event moved from Timber Park to the school's property, but both locations had severe restrictions on how the event could generate revenue.

"We couldn't have a beer garden, couldn't have a carnival, et cetera, so all of our money came from sponsors and donations," Skoog said.

Then EACE caught a massive break. Mike Park, a local landowner, offered the use of his property just north of the library on Southeast Eagle Creek Road.

"Now we have parking, beer gardens and those types of things," Skoog said. "Now we have other revenue streams to have a bigger show and do more things for the big bang rather than just a few bands and the fireworks."

Innovations

When EACE took over the Fourth of July event a few years ago, the one-day event featured live music, a parade and fireworks. Since then, the event has evolved quickly, adding a carnival and more fireworks. This year featured an impressive array of lawnmower races (new in 2011) and timber competitions.

One subdivision of EACE is the Mount Hood Lawnmower Racing Club, which hosts a number of summer races at the site of the Fourth. This year, the racing event has become nationally sanctioned, making it arguably the biggest lawnmower race on the West Coast.

In addition to lawnmower racing, Skoog has worked closely with a number of local logging companies to bring back the timber games that once were a local favorite.

This year's competition, "Lumber Jacks and Jills," featured a number of events that took place in between races on the Fourth of July.

"We concentrated on the Big Bang and bringing in the loggers this year," Skoog said. "We're expanding every year."

As for what the future holds for the event, which has now grown to a five-day festival, Skoog is unsure.

"It's unlimited what can happen here, especially with the right people," he said. "We're getting more and more people of different expertises on board, so it's just a matter of growing the event

"We have to make this one happen first."

One thing that EACE has in place is an incredible infrastructure. Aside from experienced leadership, the group has acquired bleachers and a storage trailer, which have greatly aided the growth of the event.

For more information on EACE, visit EstacadaAreaEvents.com.




Local Weather

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Estacada

Fair

Humidity: 45%

Wind: 3 mph

  • 11 Jul 2014

    Partly Cloudy 89°F 60°F

  • 12 Jul 2014

    Sunny 95°F 63°F