Runners carry American, Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard flags in the 2016 10-mile Pear Blossom race. [Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta]

Pear Blossom Festival happens this weekend

With a theme of “Our Valley, Our Heritage,” it was only natural that the 64th annual Pear Blossom Festival chose the Southern Oregon Historical Society as the grand marshal for this year’s parade.

“We chose the historical society because of their longevity and because of all they do in the valley,” says Darcey Mann-Self, president of the festival. “It just seemed right.”

The parade that draws more than 30,000 spectators to watch 4,000 participants in 150 parade entries begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 8, in downtown Medford. The parade will proceed on Central Avenue, then turn onto West Main Street.

Riding in a horse-drawn buggy, Michael Hanley IV will lead the historical society’s grand marshal entry. An author, artist, cowboy rancher and historian, Hanley is a descendant of the original owners of historic Hanley Farm. The farm, with its plants, trees and 1857 farmhouse, is operated by SOHS.

Although Hanley lives in southeast Oregon near the Idaho border, he has close ties to SOHS.

“Hanley is a storyteller about what life was like and is still like,” says SOHS volunteer Alice Mullaly. “It seemed like such a wonderful fit since we work so hard to bring the knowledge of our heritage to people of our area. Michael Hanley IV has always been a big supporter of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, as has every generation of his family. It’s a real honor to have him be a part of this celebration.” 

The parade is part of a weekend full of Pear Blossom Festival events in Medford.

From 3 to 10 p.m. Friday, April 7, and from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 8, a street fair will feature food, drinks, arts, crafts, games and more at the Commons Park Blocks near Lithia Motors headquarters building, 150 N. Bartlett St.

The Pear A Fare showcase of artisan food and beverages is from 3 to 10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday under a tent in a parking lot at the corner of Central Avenue and Fifth Street.

Admission to Pear A Fare is $5 and includes five tickets to taste food under the canopy. Alternately, visitors can buy a souvenir glass and get 10 taste tickets for food and drinks for $20. Drink selections include wine, beer and coffee.

Pear A Fare celebrates the flavors of the Rogue Valley, local chefs, and artisan food and drinks. The event helps support education and training to continue the valley’s tradition of excellence at local vineyards, orchards and kitchens, organizers say.

The festival’s signature Pear Blossom Run is Saturday starting at the intersection of Oakdale Avenue and Eighth Street. The 5K race costs $30 and begins at 7 a.m. Fun run races of one and two miles are at 7:50 a.m. for $7. The 10-mile race starts at 8:20 a.m. and costs $36. For information and registration, visit www.pearblossomrun.com.

YMCA charity race teams of five runners will be among the participants this year. Each team committed to raising $1,000 or more to help the YMCA provide preschool, after-school, child care, summer camp, youth sports and swimming-lesson programs to low-income kids and families. Charity teams will compete for prizes in categories such as fastest average time, best costumes, best team spirit, most money raised, youngest team and oldest team.

For people who prefer biking to running, the second annual Pedals N Pears is Saturday, with rides starting at Bear Creek Park, 1520 Siskiyou Boulevard, Medford.

At 8 a.m., bicyclists will depart on the 14-mile Bosc ride, the 30-mile Bartlett ride or the 62-mile Royal Riviera-Metric Century ride. The Bosc costs $45, The Bartlett costs $55 and The Royal Riviera costs $75.

The Bosc takes riders past pear orchards, including Medford’s historic Eden Valley Orchards. The Bartlett covers part of the same orchard-lined route, with additional miles nearly to Phoenix and back.

For The Royal Riviera, bicyclists also pass orchards, with the route extending to the Applegate River and Valley View Winery for a rest stop. The registration for the 62-mile ride includes a hot catered meal from Los Arcos restaurant at the end of the trip.

The Comice-Family Ride for $20 starts at 8:30 a.m. and covers four miles along the Bear Creek Greenway. A rest-stop and educational games are at the halfway turnaround point at Coyote Trails School of Nature. The ride is designed to get families back in time to see the parade.

All bike rides return to Bear Creek Park on Highland Drive and Siskiyou Boulevard.

For information and registration, see www.pedalsnpears.com. For more about all Pear Blossom Festival events, see pearblossomparade.org.

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