Athletes, families, foodies, wine enthusiasts and people-watchers will be out this weekend for what will be — fingers crossed — a beautiful, sunny day at the 60th annual Pear Blossom Festival.
The theme this year is "Our Secret Pear-adise," but the event itself is hardly a secret. Every year, nearly 30,000 people line the parade route, and this year looks to be "bigger and better than ever," says Darcey Mann-Self, Pear Blossom Festival president of 19 years.
Street fair — 3 to 10 p.m. Friday, April 12, and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at The Commons
Pear a Fare — 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at The Commons
Opening Ceremony — 5:30 p.m. Friday at The Commons
Live music — 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at The Commons
Runs — 7 a.m. (5-kilometer), 8 a.m. (1-mile), 8:20 a.m. (10-mile) and 8:30 a.m. (2-mile) Saturday in front of City Hall
Parade — 11 a.m. Saturday, begins at the intersection of Court Street and Central Avenue
An opening ceremony and ribbon-cutting is planned at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 12, at the festival's brand-new location, The Commons, a park space on Bartlett Street between Fifth and Sixth streets in downtown Medford. Mayor Gary Wheeler, various sponsors and the Pear Blossom queen and her court will speak.
"We're excited to be at The Commons," says Mann-Self. "I think that it will be really popular with everyone.
"It has power and water hookups, even surfaces for the vendors to set up on. It's beautiful, ... and it'll be easy to find everything."
At the street fair, there's something for everyone, Mann-Self says. For kids, there's cotton candy, shaved ice, pony rides, face painting and a bounce house. Grown-ups can indulge at the Pear a Fare or shop the vendors.
This year's fair features 74 retail vendors, selling jewelry, clothes, paintings, madrone patio furniture, fair-trade items, hand-woven baskets and more, as well as 14 farmers market vendors with vegetable starts and produce.
Food vendors will be set up along South Bartlett, serving an array of eats, including bentos, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and carnival food (elephant ears, corn dogs, curly fries and kettle corn).
Foodies can enjoy smaller bites in the Pear a Fare tent. Inside the large, climate-controlled tent, there will be nearly 40 vendors, offering samples of artisan foods, confections, wines, spirits and brews. On the menu are hand-dipped English toffee (Branson's Chocolates), pulled-pork and brisket sandwiches (Back Porch BBQ), nine flavors of jerky (Rogue Meats), hot coffee and sweet breads (Rogue Valley Roasting Co.) and lemon, chocolate, white and carrot cake miniature cupcakes (Cupcake Creations), to name a few. See www.pear-a-fare.com for a complete list of participating vendors.
Admission to the tent is free, but taste tickets cost $5 for six or $15 for 10 and a commemorative glass. (The latter package — 10 tickets and a glass — also can be purchased in advance at Medford BMW for only $10.) Proceeds from Pear a Fare benefit culinary and band programs at North and South Medford high schools, a 4-H culinary youth group and scholarships for aspiring chefs.
The street fair will run from 3 to 10 p.m. Friday, April 12, and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 13. The Pear a Fare tent will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Local jazz, rock and blues band Living on Dreams will perform from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at The Commons.
Runners will be on their marks at 7 a.m. Saturday for the 5-kilometer run, followed by the 1-mile Mayor's Cup at 7:50 a.m., the 10-mile run at 8:20 a.m. and the 2-mile Mayor's Cup at 8:30 a.m. All races begin in front of City Hall. See www.pearblossomrun.com for details.
The parade gets under way at 11 a.m. with grand marshal Motorcycle Superstore leading the way. This year, there are nearly 150 entries, including marching bands, walking groups, equestrian teams, specialty vehicles and several decked-out floats.
The parade begins at the corner of Court Street and Central Avenue and leisurely makes its way south to Main Street and then west to Alba Park, where it will disband. Families should arrive early to find a decent spot along the parade route.
For more information about any of the Pear Blossom events, see www.pearblossomparade.org.