"Pear-adise" was near at hand Saturday for thousands of fair lovers who flocked to the 60th annual Pear Blossom Festival, centered this year in Medford's newest urban enclave, The Commons and its adjacent park blocks.
"It's beautiful. I really like the new setup with everything in one place," said Rachel Raines of Medford, who strolled alongside her kids through a maze of competing vendors Saturday morning.
A crunchy, nearly foot-long, hand-dipped corn dog caught 12-year-old Tyler Raines' attention, his eyes widening as he measured out the size of the snack between his hands like it was a trophy fish.
His mom said "no," but there was plenty to choose from, including deep-fried asparagus, elephant ears, kettle corn and funnel cakes.
"It's just such a great time to get the family out," said Raines. "We love the Pear Blossom."
Her 6-year-old daughter, Caileigh, wasn't tempted by fried foods.
She was looking forward to seeing "the best" part of the Pear Blossom's annual parade — the Shriners go-karts, she said.
An estimated 25,000 people lined the parade route through downtown Medford, said Darcey Mann-Self, Pear Blossom Festival president.
She said about 10,000 people shuffled through the street fair in The Commons and park blocks.
"We love the new area, we love having all the vendors down here in one beautiful spot," she said. "Everything is going smoothly; it's been an absolutely wonderful day."
The theme of this year's festival was "Our Secret Pear-adise," and the street fair featured 74 vendors selling an array of specialty items, as well as 14 farmers-market vendors offering vegetable starts and produce.
Twenty-three independent food vendors were accompanied by the Pear A Fare tent, which featured nearly 40 vendors offering samples of mostly local artisan foods, wines, spirits and brews.
"All of this is good for the revitalization of the downtown area," said Jim Bunch, 63, of Eagle Point.
Bunch said people-watching is one of his favorite pastimes at community gatherings like the Pear Blossom.
"I am more of a looky-loo than a foodie," he said. "I would like to see more types of festivals here."
Fresh off finishing near the front of the pack in Saturday morning's 5-kilometer run, 7-year-old Mason Cooley of Medford was enjoying the sun while soaking up the "festival vibes" at the street fair, he said, with never less than a mouth full of cotton candy.
"I felt pretty tired after it (the run), but I'm good now," said Cooley, tearing off large wads of a sugary, yellow cocoon, a treat from his grandpa Roger Cooley, 73, also of Medford.
Waiting for her daughters outside a face-painting booth, Audra Fletcher, 28, reflected on how much the Pear Blossom Festival has changed since she attended it as a youngster.
"I am so impressed by how much this community has grown to become such a family-oriented one," she said. "It makes me proud to raise my kids here."
Sam Wheeler is a freelance writer living in Talent. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.