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Art in Bloom festival canceled

Flowers bloom during the 2016 Art In Bloom event in downtown Medford. Mail Tribune file photo
Event traditionally brings thousands of people to downtown Medford

The Art in Bloom Festival that brings 20,000 people to downtown Medford has been canceled for the second year in a row due to COVID-19.

The annual two-day event traditionally coincides with Mother's Day, which this year falls on Sunday, May 9.

"People say, 'I come every year and buy a gift for my mom,'" said Amy Rose, event coordinator for Art in Bloom.

Festival organizers needed to start lining up sponsors in the fall of 2020 in order to cover the costs of the event. But with state COVID-19 restrictions in constant flux, they weren't able to make solid plans for Art in Bloom this spring, Rose said.

"We didn't want to do a halfway event," she said.

Art in Bloom went virtual last spring when state COVID-19 restrictions were first going into effect. It promoted artisans and performers through its Facebook page, but had to skip the live version of what would have been its 20th anniversary event.

This year, Rose said people interested in buying art and other handmade items can see information about artisans again on the Art in Bloom Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Andrea Watson, who has helped with the festival in past years, is organizing a smaller event with artisans and other vendors from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 8, in Pear Blossom Park near the Lithia headquarters building in downtown Medford.

She said festivals, whether big or small, represent an important source of income for many artisans.

"I would love to encourage people to come down and support your local small-business people. We need to support local vendors and local downtown businesses," Watson said.

Rose said she's saddened that the cancellation of Art in Bloom means the youth organizations it helps support will miss out on the annual fundraising and community outreach opportunities that came with the festival.

Art in Bloom has previously aided organizations that include the Walking Tall mentorship program, the Hope Ranch Youth Program that strengthens young people's lives through activities with horses, and the LIFE Art Studio & Cultural Center that combines art with mentoring.

Art in Bloom organizers said they hope people will consider making donations to local youth programs.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Art in Bloom filled downtown with nearly 100 artisans and plant vendors, street chalk art, live entertainment, food, drinks, family activities and more.

"I hope people will still celebrate mom in a special way," Rose said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.