COO & THE GANG
At 8 months old, Jaxon Wall already has something he can use to one-up his twin brother, Cooper, later in life.
Both boys were entered in the 28th annual Pear Blossom Baby Contest Saturday, vying for the "Bluest Eyes" award. Jaxon, who wore a shirt that said, "I was a surprise," came away with the honor.
"It's nap time now," said mom Brooke Wall of Medford. Both boys' eyes started to droop in agreement.
The annual contest, hosted by Soroptimist International of Medford, drew about 115 participants Saturday morning to the Rogue Valley Mall's ground level in front of JCPenney. All entrance fees will go to benefit the Family Nurturing Center, a nonprofit that works with local low-income and at-risk families in Jackson County.
"It's almost been around as long as the Pear Blossom itself," said event chairwoman Melanie Madden. "It's just really lots of fun."
Mary-Curtis Gramley, director of the Family Nurturing Center, said the organization works with about 180 families.
They provide early childhood education services, home visits, outreach and family mental health services.
"The community support is critical," Gramley said.
Family, friends, strollers and diaper bags packed the event wall-to-wall. The young entrants competed in a variety of categories, including bluest eyes, darkest eyes, quickest smile, prettiest hair, chubbiest, and the coveted Baby Bud and Baby Blossom awards.
The Baby Blossom winner was 7-month-old Julia Morgan, and 16-month-old Liron Petrie is this year's Baby Bud. Both will ride in the Pear Blossom Parade next weekend.
Liron's father, Andy Petrie, of Medford, said his son fell naturally into the competition role, waving and blowing kisses at the judges on stage.
"He's a lot of fun," Petrie said.
Julia's mother, Jennie, said she didn't expect a win. Julia also was a finalist in the quickest smile category but didn't go all the way.
"(I'm) just amazed, I guess," she said. "Grandma was expecting it."
Most of the children were competing for the first time, and some family members said their babies seemed to be natural competitors.
Stephenie Kerby of Talent said her 5-month-old daughter, Addisyn, was napping until she walked on stage in front of the judges. Her eyes popped open and she cracked a big smile right away.
"We've been practicing for months," Kerby said.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.