Editorial: Blossom X3

April 11, 2012

When the annual question "Are there blossoms yet?" comes during Blossom Festival this year, the answer will at some point certainly be "yes."

Blossom Fest enters a new era in 2012. This year, the Chamber of Commerce puts out the welcome mat for not one but three weekends.

All the details about the 58th annual festival are in the Panorama special section included in this edition of the Hood River News.

Agriculture, recreation, history, art, wine and beer, and plenty of other ingredients for a vibrant community are all on display in the articles and photos in Panorama. Special thanks to local residents who sent in their favorite photos of the Gorge.

As with 2011, the section is now four sub-sections: Blossoms, Community, Reflections and Recreation.

The Recreation section includes a comprehensive calendar, with photos, of spring and summer outdoor sports events, from the kids' triathlon to professional kiteboarding competitions, and biking, hiking, swimming and more.

It's an attempt to mirror the breadth and depth of Blossom Fest itself. Expanding the festival to three weeks certainly reflects the range and diversity of possibilities that is Blossom every year. The festival was always geared to visitors and locals alike, but by expanding it to three weeks, locals will be better able to plan to attend events that serve local community groups.

Craft and quilt shows, pancake breakfasts, a pansy party, a grange blossom dinner, wine and beer tasting are all part of the festivities. Baked goods, preserves, art, yarn, fresh produce - there's something for everyone.

Another dimension to this year's Blossom is that Lions Follies opens on the festival's first weekend, April 13-15.

"Locally people have always honed in on the weekend; while visitors look at coming for the season," noted Chamber Executive Director Kerry Cobb.

So the decision was made to expand the festival to three weeks. That way, people can choose to come when the blossoms are here. Cobb said that next year the chamber plans to add a map to its website showing, in real time, where in the valley the fruit trees are in bloom.

"That's what people want - to see the blossoms," Cobb said. The chamber heard strong support for expanding the festival, and the staff will communicate with merchants, growers and vendors over the next two years to monitor how well the change to three weekends is working.

It's a step that seems to meet more people's needs and interests, and enables to chamber to spend the same amount of on marketing three weekends as it always had for just one.

Blossoms everywhere or not, the festival starts this weekend. In another change, the chamber has built two kiosks to be stationed from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday of all three Blossom weekends, at exits 62 and 64. That way, people can find magazines, brochures and other information all day both days, whether chamber volunteers are present or not.

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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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