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MailTribune.com
  • What's wrong with this picture?

    Depending on who you ask, moving the Pear Blossom street fair was either a great success ... or a nail in the coffin for downtown businesses
  • The Pear Blossom Festival's street fair moved this year to downtown Medford's brand-new Park Blocks, garnering acclaim from large crowds drawn to the venue.
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  • The Pear Blossom Festival's street fair moved this year to downtown Medford's brand-new Park Blocks, garnering acclaim from large crowds drawn to the venue.
    But not everyone is happy with the move. In fact, some downtown merchants are downright unhappy about it.
    "I hated it," said Michael Sidon, owner of Four Daughter's Irish Pub on West Main Street. "It was terrible for downtown. The parade ended, and it was a ghost town.
    "I think we were off a good 10 percent. During the parade, we got a lot of business, but in the past we'd get business after. I didn't get that this year."
    Sidon's comments were echoed in various forms by numerous downtown merchants, virtually all of whom said the move of the April 12-13 street fair from a Main Street location to the Park Blocks was a business killer, even if it shifted the event only a couple of blocks.
    "We were off a solid 40 percent from last year," said Nora LaBrocca, owner of Downtown Market Co. on East Main Street. "It was at Alba Park for so long. Then they moved it to Hawthorne Park, and then they finally got it where it should always have been — in downtown — and then it's gone again.
    "Nobody asked me how I felt about it, not that they need our permission, but they didn't want any feedback, and they don't understand the repercussions."
    However, Diane Raymond, executive director of the Heart of Medford Association, said she had been contacted by only one unhappy business owner and that the feedback about the move was overwhelmingly positive.
    "The Park Blocks were designed to accommodate this kind of event," she said.
    "It reduced congestion. It was a safer location," Raymond said. "It improved electrical needs for participants, and there was more space for vendors. It also allowed us to have a band both days that didn't interfere with the fair."
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