Rogue Valley Pear Blossom Festival Association has signed up the first title sponsor for the annual community celebration, highlighted by the April 9 parade through downtown Medford.
Rogue Federal Credit Union has provided $5,000 seed money for the festival's scholarship, float awards and associated events.
As a result, the 2011 Pear Blossom Festival will be officially known as the Rogue Federal Credit Union Pear Blossom Festival in its publicity and advertising, said Rogue Valley Pear Blossom Festival Association President Darcey Mann-Self. She called it a natural partnership because the inaugural Pear Blossom Parade in 1954 was held just two years before the credit union was founded.
"We've had other sponsorships come and go, but this is the first time someone has step up to this level," said Richard Barney, the Heart of Medford Association executive director, who has been cultivating the relationship for the past two years. "This is a one-year agreement, but our expectations are that it will become a multi-year deal."
The 2011 theme is "Pear-ents, Kids, Family & Fun."
The 3rd Annual Dare to Pear Challenge will kick off Pear Blossom activities Friday, March 18. Participating downtown restaurants compete in offering the best pairing of dishes prepared with pear as a main ingredient with a local wine or beer.
After a one-year trip to Hawthorne Park, the Annual Heart of Medford Association Street Fair will return downtown and be located in the same vicinity as the Pear a Fare, featuring local wine, craft beer and artisan foods. Main Street — between Riverside and Central avenues — and Bartlett Street — from Middleford Alley to Eighth Street — will be closed during the April 8-9 celebration.
— Greg Stiles