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Pear Blossom returns ... goats and all

Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Mariah Bowling helps clean one of Sanctuary One's “goat ambassadors” that will appear in the Pear Blossom Parade Saturday.
The event, a longtime tradition in downtown Medford, will include a parade and more vendors after two years of COVID-19

As tent poles were erected and power strips laid down in the heart of Medford Thursday in anticipation of the annual Pear Blossom Festival, preparation of a totally different nature occurred some 25 miles southwest.

Post-graduate students who are part of the Medford School District Transition Program bathed goats at Sanctuary One, the nonprofit animal rescue in the Applegate. The organization was named the grand marshal for the festival’s parade, set for 11 a.m. Saturday, April 9.

Mariah Bowling, one of the Transition Program students, laughed as she lathered Ned, Dusty and Lucky with soap — at least during the times when the furry friends didn’t try to get away.

“It was a little difficult, but it was fun,” Bowling said of the frantic late morning session. “They will be looking good for the parade.”

The parade, in its 69th year, will proceed in its traditional form, much like the rest of the festival, which promises to bring a slew of events under the theme “grow your community.”

This year’s Pear Blossom Festival comes after the 2020 event was canceled due to the pandemic and 2021 saw a much scaled-back version of the affair, noted Darcey Mann-Self, festival president.

“We are absolutely at full capacity at every single event. It’s very exciting to see the community support and how excited they are to be at the festival,” she said. “I’m really happy we can bring it all back.”

Truth be told, the festival kicked off March 26, with junior royalty and senior scholarship competitions at Cascade Christian High School. That was followed by a golf tournament for families at Centennial Golf Club and the Stoneridge Golf Course during the first weekend of April.

But all of that hardly scratches the surface of a festival that includes everything from a parade to a cornhole tournament.

“We’ve actually increased our events and brought everything back that we’ve already done,” Mann-Self said. “So, that’s pretty exciting.”

For the immediate future, Friday events include the Street Fair, with food and crafts, from noon to 10 p.m., in Pear Blossom Park; the Pear A Fare, featuring artisan food and spirits, from 3-10 p.m., in the parking lot at Fifth and Central; and the traditional Smudge Pot Stroll, a downtown walking and tasting tour, from 5-9 p.m.

The stroll, which involves participants going to 14 downtown restaurants with a wine glass that lights up, is sold out, according to Mann-Self.

The Pear Blossom Runs begin early Saturday morning. Packet pickup and late registration is set for 10 a.m. Friday, at the Rogue Valley Family YMCA, 522 W. Sixth St.

The parade Saturday will include Rogue Credit Union’s departing CEO Gene Pellham, who has been named honorary grand marshal.

The parade will include the goat ambassadors that Sanctuary One has worked so hard to clean. The animals normally help other goats that have just come into the sanctuary, but this time they’ll be on full display and available for the public to touch.

“They’ve come into town before to do therapy sessions, but this is an opportunity for the community to meet them, learn what we do with animals, and educate people on the intrinsic value that animals hold,” said Megan Flowers, executive director of Sanctuary One.

She noted the Transition Program has been training the goats on walking with a leash, which they did Thursday.

“They really do love to meet people — that’s one reason they get to be ambassadors,” said Flowers, noting the goats are not available for adoption. “We love the community, we love being part of it and (the festival is) an exciting time to introduce to people what Sanctuary One does.”

The festival will continue into the weekend of Saturday, April 16, too, with the 7th annual Pedals N Pears bike event, featuring four different rides — all starting at Bear Creek Park in Medford. Ride check-in is at 7:30 a.m., a half-hour before the event starts. Family rides don’t start until 9 a.m.

Asked what she hopes people get out of the Pear Blossom Festival, Mann-Self pointed to the fact the event has been going on for almost 70 years.

“You have a lot of families that have been here for years, and they were in the parade when they were young; they’re bringing their kids and grandkids back,” she said. “It’s just part of our community and part of our tradition, and that’s what they enjoy so much. It's the memories that they can create.”

For a schedule of all Pear Blossom events, see pearblossomparade.org/, go to its Facebook page under Medford Pear Blossom Festival, or call 541-840-8007.

Reach reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or kopsahl@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.