News staff writer
April 5, 2006
More than 15,000 acres of fruit trees in Oregon’s scenic Hood River Valley burst into bloom in April, just in time for the 52nd Annual Hood River Valley Blossom Festival.
The scenic and fertile Hood River Valley, spanning from the north slope of Mount Hood to the south shore of the Columbia River Gorge, is the largest pear-growing region in Oregon, producing 50 percent of the nation’s winter pear crop.
The Hood River Valley Blossom Festival celebrates the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new growing season for this important agricultural area. The 47-mile loop drive along the Hood River County Scenic Tour Route is the centerpiece of the longtime celebration, as it takes you to the festival’s entire flurry of activities.
“The Blossom Festival is so big, we couldn’t fit it all in one place,” says Genevieve Scholl-Erdmann, marketing director for the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce. “There are 28 different venues celebrating the festival this year and all are worth the trip — it’s a beautiful drive.”
This year’s festival features all the traditional favorites that Blossom Festival goers have enjoyed through the years: The Blossom Craft Show, the Hood River Antique Expo, the Blossom Fest Quilt Show, Rasmussen Farms’ Pansy Party, Parkdale Grange Blossom Dinner, and special excursions onboard the Mount Hood Railroad are all back this year, much to the delight of families that have made Blossom Festival part of their Easter-season family traditions.
There are several new events this year as well, including:
* “Lavender Delights” event at Hood River Lavender Farms;
* “Remembering Our Roots” Fruit Heritage Exhibit at the new Agriculture Heritage Museum;
* Trunk show and book signing at Cascade Alpacas and Foothills Yarn and Fiber.
No fewer than five venues are offering a real taste of the Gorge in a glass with wine and beer tastings, including a regional wine tasting at the Columbia Gorge Hotel, Hood River Vineyards’ open house, Mt. Hood Winery’s season opening, the 13th annual Hood River Food & Wine Festival, and Full Sail Brewery’s brewery tours.
Most of the Hood River Fruit Loop member farms are located on the route, and they all offer special blossom-time activities during the weekend.
Pick up a Blossom Festival map brochure at the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce Visitors Information Center, (800) 366-3530, at 405 Portway Ave. (exit 63 off Interstate 84, then turn north and follow the Visitor Information signs) or download it ahead of time:
Chamber Ambassador volunteers will also be stationed at I-84 exits 62 and 64 throughout the weekend, and will offer drive-up help with maps, directions, and a friendly smile.
On April 12, Hood River News brings out its annual three-part special section, with all the details about Blossom Festival.