Cherry Days blossoms along Fruit Loop this weekend

Fresh picked cherries and cherries transformed into all kinds of specialty products will be part of Fruit Loop’s annual Cherry Days Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This event features a variety of activities located throughout the Hood River Valley.

The all time favorite varieties of Bing, Lambert, Queen Anne, Rainier, Van and Lapin Cherries will be available and festival goers will have an opportunity to taste cherries tucked into just about everything imaginable all weekend long.

A Very Cherry Dessert Party presented by Apple Valley Country Store will feature culinary creations made from cherries. Selections include Black Forest Cherry Cake, Chocolate Cherry Almond Fudge, Cherry Cream Cheese Pie and Cherry Rugelach to name a few. Fresh baked Cherry Pies plus Cherry milkshakes and Cherry Ice Cream Sundaes will also be available.

Free balloons and face painting for kids will be the draw at Packer’s Cookie Stop. Chocolate Chip Cherry Cookies along with Cherry Cream Cheese Tarts and home made sweet cherry ice cream are also on the menu.

Visitors can choose between two behind-the-scenes farm tours as well. For those interested in what goes on at a commercial cherry orchard at the peak of cherry harvest, a one hour tour of A&J Enterprises will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Third generation grower Sam Asai will take visitors through his cherry orchard and packing area and provide insight into the life of a commercial cherry grower.

Double Dutch Alpaca Farm is also offering a tour of its alpaca farm at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. They offer an interesting discussion showing the entire process — from sheering the alpacas to spinning the fleece and creating the final garment. There is no charge for either of the farm tours.

Those interested in picking their own cherries will want to visit Alice’s Orchard or Kiss Orchard in Hood River or Draper’s Farm in Parkdale. There’ll also be u-pick blueberries at Nelson’s Blueberries or Browning’s Blueberries.

Or for those who just want to enjoy driving the scenic 35 mile Fruit Loop, a variety of farms selling fresh cherries will be found along the way: A&J Enterprises, the Berry Brier, Country Faire Fruit Market, Sakura Ridge or Rasmussens. Other stops are the tasting rooms at Hood River Vineyards or Flerchinger Vineyards.

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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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