Pear Parade: weekend brings Harvest Festival

News staff writer

October 18, 2006

Oregon’s newly designated official state fruit, the pear (pyrus communis), will appear in all its juicy glory for a big celebration on its home turf in Hood River at the Hood River Valley Harvest Fest Oct. 20-22 at the Hood River Expo Center.

The 15,000 acres of orchards in the Hood River Valley produce nearly 50 percent of the nation’s winter pear crop, and the annual event features freshly harvested, locally grown pears in several varieties for tasting, along with many other Oregon products, fine arts and crafts, live music, and family fun.

The harvest season in Oregon yields an embarrassment of riches, eclipsing the bounties produced by most agricultural regions in the world in both the quality and diversity of our crops. Many of Oregon’s most hailed and revered products will take center stage at this year’s Hood River Valley Harvest Fest, taking place on its traditional third weekend in October.

Festival-goers will find the Hood River area’s famous winter pears, apples, and wines, and also Oregon-grown cranberries, artichokes, brussels sprouts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, peppers, garlic, onions, gourds and pumpkins, specialty jams, jellies and preserves, and salmon — all of the elements for a grand Northwest harvest timetable.

Harvest Fest, in its 24th year, is the region’s largest annual event in the Gorge. Chamber of Commerce officials call it “a celebration of the Hood River Valley’s worldwide reputation for excellence as a fruit-growing region, and as one of the world’s largest pear-producing regions.” More than 21,000 people attended the 2005 festival.

Along with some of Oregon’s best agricultural growers, more than 100 of the region’s finest artisans, quilters and crafts-people will offer their wares, which will include fine art glass, metal and wood sculpture, ceramics, fiber art, photography and handicrafts. There will be more than 135 vendor booths in all, plus live entertainment all weekend long.

Harvest Fest weekend brings with it a number of smaller-scale harvest celebrations throughout the scenic Hood River Valley. The Gorge Fruit and Craft Fair will be at the Hood River County Fairgrounds in Odell, and Rasmussen Farms’ popular Pumpkin Funland will be in full swing, corn maze and pumpkin patch included.

Also, the Mt. Hood Railroad will offer scenic rail excursions to Parkdale, where riders can explore the Parkdale Fine Arts and Music Festival.

Admission to the Harvest Fest at the Expo Center is $3 per person, or $5 for a weekend pass. Children 12 and under admitted free.

Parking is also free and convenient. Harvest Fest is open 1-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22. For more information, call the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce at 386-2000, or visit hoodriver.org.

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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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