Blossom Fest attracts plenty of sun and sunny faces

The weekend weather cooperated nicely for Blossom Fest 2002.

A chilly breeze blew throughout much of Saturday and Sunday, reminding festival-goers that winter is not so far gone. But the sun beamed down on the Hood River Valley both days, putting the blossoms -- and the myriad events taking place valley-wide -- in their best light.

Tour buses and cars full of visitors and locals made the rounds of the Fruit Loop. Crowds grew and thinned, then grew again on the lawn at the Mt. Hood Towne Hall Saturday as the local bluegrass band Wild River entertained.

The four members of the Blossom Festival Court dropped by the Towne Hall just after noon on their rounds of the valley. By mid-day Saturday, the girls had already done a lot of "wink and wave" duty, as Court ambassador Joyce Yang put it, but seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Meanwhile the Earth Day celebration downtown was a hub of activity all day. Booths lined the streets between Front and First, which were closed to traffic. Musicians and speakers took to the stage throughout the day, but the highlight was the Procession of the Species parade.

The parade, which made its way from Front Street up State to Fourth, then looped back on Oak Street, boasted more than 100 people in costumes and carrying artistic representations of endangered species.

A giant caterpillar making its way past the crowds along the parade route, along with butterflies and other creatures, were part of a Project P.M. program in Hood River County elementary schools. Through a partnership with Gorge Arts, local artists worked with students to design and make the costumes, and taught lessons about different species.

Other events around town included the Hood River Antique Show at the Expo Center and the All American Soap Box Derby Race on Columbia Avenue.

Sunday found another steady stream of visitors at local Blossom Festival hot spots. Roy and Virginia Seeley drove from Vancouver, Wash., to check out the festival. It was their first time at the event; they decided to make the trip after seeing something about Blossom Festival on Channel 8 News.

"We're really enjoying it," Virginia said, as she picked apples from Lew Merz's bins at the Blossom Craft Show at the Hood River County Fairgrounds. "I eat five apples a day and I'm just glad I can still find them."

Former orchardist Merz was trying out his new role as "fruit peddler," as he calls himself now. He had bins of apples and pears which he was selling for 30 cents a pound. He also was doing a brisk business giving samples of Hood River's famous fruit.

"I've learned so much about selling fruit," said Merz, who has been "peddling" at venues around the Mid-Columbia since September after he sold most of his orchards. One thing he learned over the weekend from a "busload of people from Portland," is that many people like their pears crunchy.

"And people love fruit," he said. "They just don't like it at 99 cents a pound." He said he'd set up his vending booth at the show mostly as "an experiment."

"It's been pretty steady," he said of the crowds.

Don and Joan Bilodeau and Joan's mother, Shirley Richey, were visiting from Portland, as they do every year for Blossom Festival.

"I think this is one of the most beautiful places in the state," Don said. He said he hopes one day to retire to the Hood River Valley, but in the meantime he soaks in as much as possible during Blossom Fest.

As if on cue, dark clouds began rolling over the valley late Sunday afternoon just as Blossom Festival was winding down. Wrap it up, they seemed to say. The show's over. For today at least.

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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 to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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