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Among Parkdale pears, an Anjou rules

The Anjou rules in the Parkdale grow-and-tell.

In an annual harvest tradition at Diamond Fruit Growers, the largest fruit from the Parkdale area orchards goes on display and orchardists try to top each others' prodigious pears.

A two-pound-plus Anjou from Halliday Orchards is the champion so far, said Katherine Widman, scales operator, who organizes the good-natured contest.

The bounty also includes a two-pound Bosc.

"No one remembers ever seeing one that big," said Widman, who has worked for 28 years at the Diamond pre-size facility. (Widman said an Asian pear was delivered Tuesday and it might vie for the title.)

According to orchardists the fruit is bigger than ever this year, and every picking day brings a new surprise, she said.

"They bring them in and try to top all the others. It's a lot of fun."

To honor the orchardists' efforts, Widman started the "pie day" tradition about 15 years ago. Widman gives a pie to the the winner of the biggest fruit contest. She also makes about 10 pies and serves them to orchardists as well as truck drivers and Diamond staff.

Saturday was pie day. Widman served up peach, lemon, marionberry, and of course, apple and pear pies.

"The guys are all so nice. They bring me fruit for the pies. It's just a really fun tradition," she said.

But the largest fruit is saved for display and Widman's own harvest tour.

"Last year I took the fruit to my grandkids' school in Oregon City, and to my parents in Utah, to show them how big we grow fruit in the Hood River Valley," Widman said.

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