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Actor Bruce Campbell adds buzz to Buncom Day

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Clear skies and the star-power of a local celebrity helped a Southern Oregon ghost town see one of its biggest crowds in years.

With the help of actor and longtime Southern Oregon resident Bruce Campbell, a crowd in the hundreds flocked Saturday to an abandoned mining town in the Applegate Valley for the 26th annual Buncom Day.

Campbell, who's built a prolific film and television career that started with cult classic movies made from shoestring budgets such as “The Evil Dead,” was named grand marshal of the freeform community festival after taking on the festival’s famed Chicken Splat booth.

Dressed to the nines in a burgundy coat, dark stetson and turquoise bolo tie, Campbell seemed to relish his carnival barker role for the unique festival game — one part bingo, one part chickens and another part well-fed chickens answering nature’s call.

“Step back, please, let us do our business,” Campbell said as he placed the chicken on the mat.

Another Jacksonville resident with 1980s horror movie credits, “Friday the 13th” actor Adrienne King, also stopped by the festival to show her support ... and gave Campbell a little grief. After Campbell declared a winner, King pointed out a remnant from a previous game that landed on her space.

“It think the splat game is fixed,” King teased.

Beside Campbell was Billy Thompson, whose wife raised the chickens at the Chicken Splat.

“There’s poop in great money,” Thompson joked.

Thompson’s wife fed the chickens grapes and French bread, but at one point just after 1 p.m. a chicken got apparent stage fright. Campbell wasn’t phased, making himself available for fan photos, lining fresh cards with a yardstick and rattling off one-liners.

“That’s the splat — sometime’s it’s right away, and other times pack a lunch,” Campbell said.

The crowd ranged from bikers to bicyclists — with Jason Hord of Jacksonville on a 1890s-style large-wheel bicycle somewhere between.

Lyn Hennion, who owns the Buncom property and has organized the festival since 1993, said the event draws visitors of all ages, all vocations, all socioeconomic backgrounds and “all with good hearts.”

“There’s no way to describe this,” Hennion said. “Buncom is a state of mind.”

At a booth near the Chicken Splat, Jim and Kathy Horner gave away tadpoles that spawned in their swimming pool — a tradition that began with their since-grown daughter, Sarah, who kept bullfrogs as pets and wanted to share them with others.

“We don’t get to use our pool ‘til Buncom Day,” Jim Horner said.

He praised the weather and the lively turnout.

“This is one of our best Buncom Days,” Jim said. “Whoever was in charge of the weather did a good job.”

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

Hollywood actor and Applegate Valley resident Bruce Campbell hosts the chicken splat contest during Saturday's Buncom Days celebration. Photo by Denise Baratta