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Splash into fun, connect with community

Looking for something to do for the day that is fun and affordable for the entire family? Then look no further than BCT’s 10th annual Backyard Bash, from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 13.

The event, held in the backyard of Beaver Creek Cooperative Telephone Company’s facility on Henrici Road in Oregon City, started off small in 2004, to honor the company’s 100th birthday, said Tangee Summerhill-Bishop, director of marketing and member services.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: BCT - This year's annual Backyard Bash organized by Beaver Creek Cooperative Telephone Company will also feature a water slide.“It is a community event, a hometown festival like a small-scale fair, with inflatables, food, wine, vendors and entertainment,” she said.

In 2004, her team was asked to put the event together, and it first started with a few tables of nonprofit organizations, an eating area, a tiny kids corner and entertainment. A couple hundred people, mainly BCT members, attended.

“It’s amazing to see how it has grown. We now have 45 vendors and the kids corner takes up the entire parking lot. Last year 1,300 people attended from a wide variety of places,” Summerhill-Bishop said.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: BCT - Crowds converge for last year's ninth-annual Backyard Bash organized by Beaver Creek Cooperative Telephone Company.

It takes a community

Since its founding in 1904, BCT has been heavily involved with the community. It has always been the company’s mission to be a partner in the community and give back, Summerhill-Bishop said.

One reason to put on the Backyard Bash is to provide a family-friendly event, but it is the second goal that makes the event unique, she said.

Right from the advent of the bash, the purpose was to raise money for local nonprofits, but organizers quickly realized they needed to scale back the number of groups, so that each made a fair amount of money.

“We do this to shed light on the small-scale, nonmainstream nonprofits, not the ones that are already getting huge amounts of money,” Summerhill-Bishop. This year’s charities include Backpack Buddies, The Founders Clinic, Gaffney Lane Elementary School, Meals on Wheels, Squires and Youth Music Project. Next year a different group of nonprofits will benefit from the event.

Entrance to the Backyard Bash is free, but all the money raised that day from two silent auctions and raffles, the kids corner, the Bingo tent and the BCT barbecue cart will be divided among the six nonprofits, Summerhill-Bishop said.

“There is no way a company as small as ours could fund this event by ourselves, so that is where all our community partnerships and sponsors come into play,” she said, noting that companies and individuals donate items for the raffles and auctions, and fees from the vendors go into putting the event on.

“In the past nine years this event has donated over $48,000 to local nonprofits,” Summerhill-Bishop said.

She also said she is grateful to the Oregon City High School cross country and wrestling teams, which help set up and take down the event every year.

Family friendly

Organizers try to have something for everyone to enjoy, she said, from babies to grandparents.

“People even bring their dogs, and this year one of our affiliates gave us little doggie bags for clean-up,” Summerhill-Bishop added.

In the kids corner, children may take part in face painting, bounce houses, a waterslide, an old-fashioned dime toss and a trout pond, stocked with real fish.

Last year there were so many fish left at the end of the event, that children were invited to jump into the pond and catch fish with their bare hands.

“They were splashing and squealing and holding up the fish — they were so proud,” Summerhill-Bishop said.

As for the dime toss, whatever participants manage to land a dime on is theirs to take away, she said, noting that one time an adult won so many prizes that his wife was unhappy with his haul of goodies.

Wineries Christopher Bridge and Forest Edge will be on hand with adult beverages. In addition to the BCT barbecue cart with hamburgers, food vendors also will be selling hot dogs and sausages, ice cream sandwiches, Mexican food, strawberry shortcake, pulled pork and slushies.

Craft and commercial-product vendors will sell such wares as jewelry, candles, handbags and more, Summerhill-Bishop said.

Musical entertainment will be provided by Scott Brockett and Rich DeVore; Maralee’s Dance Production features children dancing in the stage area, she said.

The most fun part of the whole event for her, Summerhill-Bishop said, is “looking across the field and seeing it filled with people. We are a small telephone company, and to have that direct impact with a company founded so long ago brings me so much joy.”

Bash-full fun

What: BCT presents its free 10th annual Backyard Bash

When: 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 13

Where: Behind BCT headquarters at 15233 S. Henrici Road, in Oregon City

Details: Profits from raffles, auctions and other events benefit six local nonprofits. They are: Backpack Buddies, providing a backpack of food for children to take home on weekends; The Founders Clinic, providing health care to the medically uninsured in Clackamas County; Gaffney Lane Elementary School; Meals on Wheels, delivering food to home-bound seniors in Oregon City and Beavercreek; Squires, empowering and educating teen fathers; and Youth Music Project, providing free or low-cost music lessons to children.

The BCT Backyard Bash is presented by BCT and Oregon City’s Haggen. The event is sponsored by: Carlson Furniture and Appliance, Citizens Bank, Clackamas County Vet Clinic, Coastal Farm and Ranch, Denise Goding-Keller Williams, Haven Corner, OC Signs, Oregonians Credit Union, Portland Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists, Team Jensen Mortgage Express and Willy Make It?

For more info, visit bctelco.com.