Annual Buncom Day parade is short, but redundant

What is likely the shortest parade in Oregon will be held — twice — Saturday in the tiny town of Buncom, a defunct hamlet in the Little Applegate River watershed.

The annual Buncom Day celebration, which includes parade participants marching about 200 feet, then turning on their heels to repeat the performance, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

And the parade?

"It will start noonish, but this is on Buncom time," said property owner Lyn Hennion, noting the start time is a bit flexible.

"People in the crowd who want to be in the parade are welcome to join in," she added. "It must be the only parade you can be in and watch at the same time."

She and her late husband, Reeve Hennion, started the Buncom Day celebration in 1993 to highlight the history of the area while bringing the community together.

Established in the late 19th century, Buncom is about six miles south of Ruch at the intersection of Sterling Creek and Little Applegate roads.

"The grand marshal for the parade is always fun to figure out," Lyn Hennion said. "Sometimes we just look in the crowd and see who is there to be the grand marshal."

When U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, was the scheduled grand marshal and was running late that day because of earlier commitments, it didn't faze the Buncom celebrants. They held the parade as scheduled, then simply repeated it when the congressman arrived, she recalled.

"It's supposed to be fun — no one gets too upset," she stressed.

In addition to the two-way parade, which will ultimately feature antique cars, folks walking their dogs dressed for the occasion and others wanting to kick up their heels, the family-themed celebration will include a barbecue provided by the Applegate Lion's Club, face painting, various concessions and the World Famous Buncom Chicken Splat contest. The latter features a contest in which folks guess on a numbered grid where a wandering chicken will, well, splat.

"We have a backup chicken, just in case," Lyn Hennion offered.

Other events include a pollywog adoption in which children are invited to adopt a soon-to-be-frog, she said, noting that instructions will be provided.

"We will also have music," she said. "But we are doing it more as a jam session this year. We're inviting people to bring their own instruments."

There is no charge to attend the event.

"We try to get local businesses and local people involved," she said. "It's a community celebration in which we invite 500 of our nearest and dearest friends."

She and her husband formed the nonprofit Buncom Historical Society to help preserve the old town. A Rogue Valley community leader and the unofficial mayor of Buncom, he died in 2009 following a battle with cancer. He was 67.

The Buncom Mining District goes back to 1867. Gold miners began pouring into the area in the 1850s.

Buncom consists of three buildings — the post office, bunkhouse and cookhouse. Its post office was established on Dec. 5, 1896, serving some 175 people in the vicinity. It closed in 1917.

The post office doubled as the general store, which operated until the mid-1930s.

The weathered bunkhouse building served miners working the nearby Federal Mine owned by Gin Lin, one of the few Chinese residents who owned a local gold mine.

No one seems to know precisely how Buncom came by its name. The "Oregon Geographic Names" book suggests it may have been the result of Chinese miners mispronouncing the name of a local settler.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or email him at

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