SPAM Queen Charlotte Boehm rolls through Shady Cove with the King during Saturday’s annual SPAM parade.

Hog wild for SPAM

SHADY COVE — If pigs could fly, they would have been soaring over Highway 62 Saturday just to get a better view of the eighth annual SPAM parade and SPAM-O-RAMA Festival 2007.

The entire town and invited guests went hog wild as they began the day by lining the Crater Lake Highway and watching the hour-long parade that celebrated the potted meat's 70th birthday.

The all-day event brought together an estimated 4,000 people in what event coordinator Laura Harms said is a festival "that now seems to have a life of its own."

Parade judges, who would decide which entrants would receive a portion of the $2,000 in parade prizes, were treated to an early morning SPAM breakfast before heading off for their morning chores.

Shady Cove resident Alma Spicer, with a laugh and a wink said, "There was some talk of serving the judges some green eggs with their SPAM."

Spicer was with Ron and Charlotte Boehm eight years ago when the idea of the SPAM festival was born over dinner conversation at the Boehms' Two Pines Restaurant.

"At first it was just a joke," said Charlotte Boehm. "But pretty soon we realized it wasn't a bad idea after all."

Boehm was once again the festival's queen, riding one of her typically strange floats, accompanied by the many unique subjects of her realm, including a rocky mountain stuffed goat disguised as a pig, her grandson who mimed from a coffin, and a life-size replica of the queen's king for a day, Elvis Presley.

With big laughs and waves to the cheering spectators, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters took his first turn as the parade's Grand SPAMarshal. He warned organizers that he might have to leave if there was a law enforcement emergency, but he was able to stick around to the end.

At first, not many people recognized County Commissioner C. W. Smith, who was wearing some "farmer duds" and a wide brimmed straw hat. He was once again given the honorary title of SPAMissioner for a day.

Harms said Smith comes out every year and is always a big supporter of the event.

The theme of this year's SPAM-O-RAMA was "America Goes Hog Wild," and it offered a special salute to all military veterans, especially those who served in World War II.

There were 52 entries competing for prize money in the parade.

Caleb Layman, a speechless primary school-aged young man, clutched his $150 check, third prize for his entry of "SPAM Bob Square Pants."

The ArtCars of Southern Oregon, a wildly decorated group of autos led by Konnie May and her Volkswagen, "Flutterbug," came all the way from Ashland and drove away with $350 for second place.

First place went to a lady known only as Captain SPAM Sparrow, who many mistook for Johnny Depp in his well-known pirate role. Her vehicle had broken down and she had to walk the entire route. She was not at the awards ceremony, where she was awarded $500.

The grand prize of $1,000 went to the Material Girls of Shady Cove, a group of ladies who get together to make quilts and raise money for charitable causes. The ladies and a few children rode in the bed of an old military truck, wearing pig noses and blowing bubbles at the crowd.

Afternoon events included a sloppy watermelon-eating contest, an open market filled with vendors, a playland for the kids and a "world class" SPAM cook-off.

The Beer Garden revelers had no problem dancing and singing along with the band, Chaylyn Gray and Southern Pride, who recently had "rocked the stage" at the Jackson County Fair.

There didn't seem to be much irritation on drivers' faces as ODOT shuttled traffic through town in one lane of Highway 62, while the parade marched on in the other.

One SUV with California plates drove by with two little girls in the back seat. They were laughing, clapping and pointing at the parade. Up front, dad was trying to drive and take photos at the same time while his wife was on a cell phone, possibly telling someone back home they were driving past a parade.

"It all came together well," said Shady Cove Police Chief Rick Mendenhall. "The only problem was after the parade. We opened up both lanes and drivers slowed down to take a look. For a time, traffic in both directions backed up a mile or more."

Late in the afternoon, with the smell of roasting Spam in the air, it seemed appropriate that this was the Chinese "Year of the Pig."

As one visitor, holding a "Classic SPAMburger" in one hand and a beer in the other, joked, "This is a good day to be hamming it up in Shady Cove. Unless, of course, you happen to be a pig."

Bill Miller is a Southern Oregon freelance writer. Reach him at

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