ANOTHER VOICE: A farmer grew up with Harvest Fest

Thirty-one years ago a group was putting together a harvest event at the old Diamond Fruit Cannery on Cascade Street. They wanted some orchard participation so I, being a young orchardist with apples abundant but little money, picked some Golden Delicious apples, grabbed a bunch of used paper grocery bags, an old scale, and a pocket full of change and headed down to the event.

I set up business across the street from the cannery building on the sidewalk. Back then the sidewalks on the low end of the blocks were very high, as much as 1.5 feet, to handle rain storms. This high sidewalk corner provided my presentation shelf and a place to sit during lulls.

As people started flowing into the harvest event on that first Saturday morning, it became apparent that I didn’t have enough fruit to handle the demand. I ran up the street to a phone booth (that is a small enclosure about the size of an outhouse that has a phone with coin slots in it to pay for the use). Back then, phone calls from Hood River to Odell were long distance, but thankfully I had lots of change from apple sales but few apples. I got hold of Dad and he picked some more apples and brought them down to me.

Across the street to the east was a partial vacant lot where Lew Merz had set up his fruit sales as well. Lew had more experience than I and had a more substantial operation. We would be Harvest Fest cohorts for the next 29 years. Lew finally retired a couple of years back. He had a lot to do with the success and growth of the Harvest Fest.

As years went by, we made lots of adjustments to meet the increasing demand. When we moved down to the port area, it opened up the opportunity to bring in bins of fruit and provide the opportunity for patrons to purchase boxes of fruit mixed with the varieties they desired. We now bring in more than 10 varieties of pears and apples, have electronic cash registers, pop-up tents in case of rain, and have ample room for the thousands of visitors that come to see the fruit.

Over the years I have become less enthusiastic about being a part of the Harvest Fest. After six or seven weeks of harvest, I am ready for a break. However, my wife, Kathy, and kids Sarah and Jimmie still enjoy the whole affair and so they take on most of the operation.

A couple of things have been the same for the entire 31 years. We only sell field-run fruit with no grading and added value (expense to the consumer). We also only sell what we grow and therefore have firsthand knowledge of how the fruit has been grown.

That first Harvest Fest, I probably went through 10 to 15 boxes of fruit, all Golden Delicious. Now we go through hundreds of boxes which include new varieties such as Red Anjous, Golden Russett Bosc, Fuji, Jonagold and Honeycrisp.

The Chamber of Commerce has done a great job of promoting and managing the annual Harvest Fest over the years. Not a small task. I hope it continues for decades to come. It has become a terrific tradition for Hood River.


Mike Oates of Odell grows fruit, and plenty of it.

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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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