COVER STORY RAIN OR SHINE ... it’s Pear Blossom time
A light drizzle, lingering rain or even likely showers this weekend will not hinder the 65th Pear Blossom Festival. That being said, perhaps revelers can hope for sunny skies and balmy breezes.
Pear Blossom’s long history as a Medford tradition emphasizes family values, commitment and pride in the Rogue Valley, according to pearblossomparade.org.
The festival’s parade has grown from 20 wagons and a handful of youngsters to today’s 150 parade entries with about 4,000 participants and somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000 visitors lining the parade route.
In 1954, various Medford groups and the school district initiated an event to celebrate the spring blossom season. There was to be a children’s parade, and a 5-year-old, Miss Blossom, was chosen to reign over 10 floats.
By 1956, there were 100 floats in the parade, and the festival touted a 30-mile tour of the valley’s blooming orchards.
Motorized floats were allowed in the parade in 1964, and Pear Blossom Festival parade marshals have included Oregon Governor Robert D. Holmes (1957), U.S. President John F. Kennedy (1960) and Olympic medal-winning long-distance runner Frank Charles Shorter (1977), who led more than 650 participants in the festival’s first annual mini-marathon.
This year’s parade starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 14, at Beatty Street and North Central Avenue and travels to downtown Medford, where it turns right on West Main Street, then disperses at Mistletoe.
Scholarships for area high-school senior girls became a hallmark of the festival in 1991. Months ahead of the festivities, the girls participate in a scholarship program to be recognized as the Pear Blossom queen and her court. Queen Margarita Duran-Estino from Crater Lake High School and her court will ride one of the floats in the parade.
Also look for winners of Medford Soroptimist’s Baby Contest in the parade.
Parking to view the parade will be available on side streets along the parade route.
A street fair kicks off Pear Blossom festivities from noon to 10 p.m. Friday, April 13, in Pear Blossom Park, adjacent to Common Block Brewing Company. Look for food, fun, games, art and crafts. The street fair remains open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Guitar and vocal duo The Brothers Reed will perform its original, harmony-laden folk music from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, and Eugene-based Heavy Chevy Band will perform soul, funk, classic rock and electric blues from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday in the amphitheater at the park.
Newer events at the festival include the Smudge Pot Stroll and Pear A Fare.
The Smudge Pot Stroll — a walking and tasting tour around downtown Medford — is held opening night of the festival. Ticket holders stroll the streets with wine glasses in hand and sample dishes created from local products by chefs at downtown restaurants. Tickets were sold out at press time.
Pear A Fare also celebrates the flavors of locally produced food and recognizes chefs and food artisans while supporting vineyards, orchards and kitchens in the Rogue Valley. Look for exceptional products for your table when vineyards, breweries, distillers and food artisans gather from 3 to 10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday for Pear A Fare under a large canopy at the southeast corner of Fifth and Central, in the parking lot of KidTime!
Tickets are $20, can be purchased at the entrance and include a commemorative wine glass and 10 tasting tickets.
And finally, but not least, Saturday’s events include the annual Pear Blossom Run.
The Pear Blossom 5K, 10-mile and fun run races are set for 7 a.m., 7:50 a.m. and 8:20 a.m., respectively. The Pedals ‘N Pears bicycling event starts at 9 a.m.
See pearblossomparade.org for information.