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Patriotism highlights holiday

Memorials, parades, barbecues and Boatnik are part of the weekend

Break out the sunscreen, sunglasses and barbecue sauce, but keep a rain jacket handy.

Memorial Day weekend will offer the traditional patriotic parades, picnics and parties in the Rogue Valley, along with a chance of precipitation.

From Ashland to Grants Pass, many folks will use the three-day weekend to ease into the outdoor recreation season as well as to pay respects to those lost in war.

The holiday was first observed shortly after the Civil War to remember those killed in that bloody conflict.

All post offices will be closed in observance of Memorial Day. No first-class mail will be processed, although express mail will be delivered.

With the exception of police and fire departments, government offices will be closed on Monday.

Banks and schools also will be closed.

The Rogue Valley Motor Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Test Center, normally open on Saturday, will be closed Saturday through Monday.

It also will be closed Tuesday for customer service training and computer upgrading. It will reopen as usual at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

Regional recreational events begin with the 43rd annual Boatnik in Grants Pass. It opened with a carnival Thursday at Riverside Park. Main events include a downtown parade at 10 a.m. Saturday and whitewater race on the Rogue River at — p.m. Monday.

Sprint boat racing is set for 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with finals after the whitewater race on Monday. Look for skydiving at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, — p.m. Sunday and 11:30 a.m. Monday.

There will be fireworks at dusk Friday and Saturday. Check for details.

A much smaller festival will be held Saturday with the annual Buncom Day celebration. Buncom is a tiny ghost town at the intersection of Little Applegate and Sterling Creek roads a half dozen miles south of Jacksonville.

The casual event is set from 10 a.m. to — p.m. There will be a barbecue, craft vendors, food booths, door prizes and an extremely short parade. Admission is free.

Annual Memorial Day activities at the Eagle Point National Cemetery begin with the Unknown Soldiers Memorial Service at 11 a.m. Monday.

The service will be followed by wreaths being laid by veteran and civic groups, a traditional 21-gun salute and a flyover by Oregon Air National Guard fighter jets.

Music will be provided by the Eagle Point High School band.

In preparation for the event, Boy and Girl Scout councils representing the Rogue Valley will begin placing small flags at each of more than 6,000 graves this afternoon.

In Medford, the annual ceremony begins at — p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park at Stewart and Riverside avenues. Following a flag presentation and the wreaths, a guest speaker will talk about the meaning of Memorial Day.

Volunteers from the Southern Oregon Concert Band, led by Harry Kannasto, will begin performing at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Mountain View Cemetery in Ashland. The annual event is sponsored by Ashland Post No. 14 of the American Legion.

Guest speaker will be retired Marine Corps Col. David Dotterrer.

The cemetery is near the intersection of Ashland Street and Normal Avenue.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at