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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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