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2010 Pear Blossom Festival

"Rogue Valley: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow" is the theme for the 57th annual Pear Blossom Festival Parade to be held this Saturday in Medford, and one of the parade's grand marshals, Barbara Roddy, recalls a lot about the region's past.

Roddy was born in Medford, where she and her sister worked in the pear and peach orchards that covered the valley floor. When Roddy married and moved to Wenatchee, Wash., she saw her first apple blossom festival. That prompted her, in 1948, to write a letter to the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce to propose such a festival in Medford. Her idea was well taken, and the first Pear Blossom Festival was held in 1954.

This year's Pear Blossom Festival Parade will get under way at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 10, in downtown Medford. Along with Roddy, the parade's grand marshals will include representatives from the Medford/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. Live coverage of the parade will be aired at 11 a.m. on RVTV Channel 15. The parade will end at Alba Park.

A big change to this year's festival is the Pear Blossom Spring Fair — formerly the Pear Blossom Street Fair — that will be held Saturday and Sunday, April 10 and 11, at Hawthorne Park, adjacent to the Medford Center, instead of Friday and Saturday at Alba Park.

According to the Heart of Medford Association, the number of artists, artisans, retail vendors and concessionaires who participate each year in the fair has outgrown the space at Alba Park. The spring fair at Hawthorne Park will offer new attractions to visitors, including a two-day lineup of live music provided by local groups.

There also will be activities that will range from medieval jousting to rock climbing, a Kids Zone created by ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum, removable tattoos from Kids Unlimited, animals from Wildlife Images and the Southern Oregon Alpaca Association — along with pony rides, face-painting and bounce houses. Look for cotton candy and elephant ears to eat, and keep an eye out for Buddy and Blossom — two event mascots dressed as pears.

Fair hours will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Alba Park will become the location for another new element of the Pear Blossom Festival. Pear a Fare, a showcase of locally produced wines, brews, artisan foods and other specialties, will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 9, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 10. A commemorative wine glass costs $9 and includes four tickets for wine and brew samples. Live music by classic rock band Rogue Rage will be presented from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at Pear a Fare.

Shuttle service will be provided between Alba and Hawthorne parks on Saturday, or visitors may stroll through town and shop downtown merchants' sidewalk sales.

One of the mainstays of the festival is the annual Pear Blossom Run, also to be held Saturday. The 5K and the 10-mile races will start at 7 a.m. and 8:20 a.m., respectively, at Medford City Hall. Other races, including the Mayor's Mile at 7:50 a.m. and a two-mile run at 8:25 a.m. will start at the Justice Building. Visit www.pearblossomrun.com to see the race courses. Race results also will be posted at the Web site.

From the left: Brandon Montgomery, Mckenzie Johnson, Christian Hoge, Evan Erskire and Dallas Chisum perform back flips during the 2009 Pear Blossom Parade. - MT file photo