Every year, on a warm summer day in July you’ll find about 7,000 people gathering for a traditional small-town festival in Bonanza, Oregon, located east of Klamath Falls. The town was established in 1875 and named for its prosperous farming land and abundant water supply from Big Springs, located near the center of town. If you haven’t been fortunate enough to make it to one of the Annual Bonanza Extravaganzas yet, you’re really missing something special.
“We do this to give back to our community” said Mayor Tyree, “it’s all about working together to make our small town better for the families who live here.” She has been Mayor since 1979 and a resident since 1955 (only 54 years after the town was incorporated in 1901), shares how the festival has grown and changed over the years- “back in the day we had greased poll climbing and a tug of war game with a rope stretched up over the springs.” This year’s festival which took place on July 27, included sack races and a watermelon eating contest for the kids, a BBQ Wing War cook-off and a pie baking competition. Cheri Stewart, festival coordinator said “We want people to take a break from their fast-paced lives, see a part of Oregon that maybe they haven’t seen before, and enjoy the day with their family in our little town.”
Bonanza, with a population 415, is one of only two remaining small Oregon towns with a continuously operating K-12 school. Mayor Tyree commented- “If you lose your school you lose your town… keeping the school open is something that is very important to our community, and we do everything we can to support it.” Money raised from vendor and car show entry fees is used to help fund students’ 4-H and FFA Club activities. “We all work together to make our town a success,” says Mayor Tyree, “We couldn’t do this without the support of our community partners like Avista, it’s the strong partnerships we have that make our town work.” Avista supports the festival, and recently donated a one-ton work truck to the town to be used as a snow plow in the winter.
Although the community will welcome your visit any day, you should definitely put the Bonanza Extravaganza on your calendar!