Harvest Fest draws huge crowds

Hood River Harvest Fest really pulled them in.

Weekend attendance was 21,700, a little over last year, according to Craig Schmidt, director of the sponsoring Hood River Chamber of Commerce.

"We had a great Friday, and Saturday was tremendous -- certainly the weather helped," Schmidt said.

In a first for the 19th annual festival was the Pear Pavilion, a large tent sponsored by Fruit Loop Group and the Northwest Pear Bureau, which markets pears throughout the region.

"We got a positive message about pears," said Kaye White, Fruit Loop marketing director. "A lot of people didn't understand you could cook with pears. We had florists coming up and looking at our floral arrangments, and asked to buy pears for flower shops. That's a new market with a lot of potential," White said.

White said the pavilion was "standing room only" Saturday, and volunteers scrambled to keep up with the demand for delectables such as cheesecake and fruit-and-pear plates.

Schmidt said the Harvest Fest served as part of a larger festivity throughout the county.

"We printed 15,000 brochures marketing the other 20 events throughout the valley, along the Fruit Loop as well as the Parkdale Autumn Fest and Gorge Fruit and Craft fair in Odell."

He said this year's festival had "the best quality and variety of crafts and produce yet, and credit for that goes to the jurors and volunteers who put it all together."

The first annual Pear packing competition was "a huge success," White said. Visitors gathered to watch local fruit packers compete for cash prizes. First place went to Pedro Crisandoa with a time of 1 minute 13 seconds, working in less than optimal conditions, as he flew through 100 pre-sorted anjou pears.

Paco Magama was second with a time of 1:15 and Elodia Lara was third with 1:25. A cash prize of $100 was awarded to Pedro for first place, $75 to Paco for second and $50 to Elodia for third.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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