The Columbia Gorge Wine and Pear Festival returns May 17-18, and meeting the vintners and the growers is a big part of its appeal.
Seven local food vendors will be on hand, and there will be 23 wineries and three cideries, and several dozen artists and craftspeople representing media ranging from textiles and teas to sculpture and furniture. Local musicians will provide rock, folk, bluegrass and jazz both afternoons.
Hood River Rotary and Oregon Pear Bureau present the event, with proceeds going to local scholarships. (See page A2 for details on attending the event.)
Pears will be available for sampling at the Oregon Pear Bureau booth, which this year has been moved from a corner in the entry area to a corner location near the entry of the main hangar. The music stage has also been relocated so visitors get to it after passing through the vendors.
The festival features local wines from noted award-winning winemakers including: Bob Lorkowski, John Haw and Rich Cushman. Admission includes wine-tastings from wineries and vineyards, pairings with local fruit, specially selected food from local restaurants, art from noted local artisans, and music by renowned Gorge musicians.
Attendees will also be able to stroll through the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum, one of the largest collections of still-flying antique airplanes and still-driving antique automobiles in the country.
“We’ll have a selection of green and red Anjou pears, and 12 growers will be there throughout both days, as our guest ambassadors,” said Pear Bureau spokeswoman Brittany Wilmes. “It’s been a good year for sales but we still have 12 percent of our supplies in storage, and this gives growers the chance to connect with the public.”
The bureau will provide recipes and nutrition information.
“We really just want to showcase pears and how good they are to eat,” Wilmes said.
Rotary’s Dave Bick said the attendance goal this year is 4,000-5,000, up from the 3,000 who visited last year.
“Many of the booths staffed by owners or winemakers, allowing people to speak directly to the people who make the wine,” Bick said. “We’re happy to be working with the folks at WAAAM, as visitors will also have the opportunity to tour the museum as part of the cost.
“We’re trying to give a little more value to the tickets,” he added; the first 1,500 people will get a tote bag to carry around. Also new this year is a 12-page event guide.