McMinnville cobbler interested in burn


Dustin Lau

Senior Laney Riggings performing fire dancing for the crowd at Built to Burn ’19 to warm them up for the main event

Alexandra Feller, Features Editor

Jim the cobbler, who prefers to go by just Jim, is in anticipation for the ceremonial burn directed by art professor Totem Shriver.

Jim and his wife have been attending the burn every year for approximately the last 3 years.

“It is an interesting event, it is always fun to try and figure out what is going on and then what it represents. Everyone has their own idea I guess.”

Jim said it is a representation of pre civilized history. He sees it as a celebration of spring, a way to ensure there will be a good year for harvest. Jim does not think this ceremony represents any particular religion, but rather it is a way to celebrate the earth.

His favorite part of the ceremony is the Japanese drums. The element of the drums creates a fluidity during the event he says. He knows many people attending are looking forward to this part of the event.

In addition, one part of  the ceremony gives people the opportunity to write a message on a piece of paper, and then throw it into the fire. The idea is that as the paper burns up, it will send a message to the higher powers.

The burn is mostly seen as a student participation event in the McMinnville community, but Jim estimates ⅓ people at the event are McMinnville locals. In fact, this is a perk for Jim and his wife who often reconnect with other local townspeople at the burn.

Jim has heard rumors that this will be the last burn Shriver leads, “I heard rumors last year that Totem said this would be the last year. It came from him near as I can tell.” He hopes that if these rumors are true someone else will step up and lead the event.

Jim is a cobbler working at Shoe Mates, a store on third street. He started working there when a friend of his bought the store. There was a master cobbler who was working there at the time. Jim was able to study under him and learn the trade for 4 years.  

“It’s an interesting challenging job, every job is different, I get to meet neat people. And so it’s really almost like not working,” Jim said.

In an age where shoe repair is not as common, Jim said he sometimes cannot repair the shoe at all. When he is able to make repairs, the material is difficult to find and expensive to purchase.

While difficult, every shoe repair is different. This aspect is exciting to Jim because it prevents the job from becoming boring or dull since he is doing something different each day.

“I try to do one good deed a day, so to try and help someone out who is in a bind, or needs a small thing done and not have to charge them is very rewarding. And even when there is a difficult job and it’s expensive and what not. When you do a good job and the people can appreciate it that’s nice too.”