Someone’s loss is another person’s gain.
The Fruit Growers League disbanded earlier this year after supporting the pear industry for 96 years. And with that decision came another decision and that was to give the Eagle Point Library all of the posters that have been created for the Pear Blossom festivities since the event began in 1954.
On April 9, Bill Eckart, who has been executive director of the Fruit Growers League since 2002, came to the Eagle Point Library, along with several of the Pear Blossom officials, to offer some history about the League, the posters, and the festival and to make the donation official.
The Fruit Growers League was founded as orchardists ban together to fight fire blight that was destroying the trees. There were some 400 growers at that time. As more joined, it became evident they could expand their horizon and included research, public relations and lobbying. They became a strong, recognized group not just locally but statewide and were responsible for creating the Medford Chamber of Commerce, and several other groups in the valley.
Eckart talked about several of the posters including the series of six by Ray Kappel, wherein he used his daughter and wife as his models over the years. One called “The Sky’s the Limit” is a particular favorite of Eckarts.
There were two years where no poster was created. This year’s poster artist, Debbie Elder, of Trail, has agreed to do two more posters to fill in those two years to make the series complete. It is hoped the posters will continue despite the loss of the Fruit Growers League.
Today’s pear industry has seen many changes. There are only 6,000 acres of pears in the Rogue Valley compared to well over 20,000 acres when the fruit was in its prime. Today new methods are combining the pear industry with a fairly new grape industry, which of course, means wine. And today several of the larger companies are combining a number of valley products into gift baskets.
Eckart said as the wine industry gains in the specialty marketplace, clusters of specialties are being promoted. He pointed to Butte Creek Mill and Agate Ridge and other area wineries as an example. Eckardt said Agate Ridge is gaining an international reputation for some of its fine wine.
arcy Mann-Self, president of the Pear Blossom, and four or five other key volunteers of that recent major event explained how they are working to expand the significance of pears to the valley with new events this year such as the Pear-a-Fare and the Pear Challenge.
Charlene Prinsen, Eagle Point Library branch supervisor, said the goal of the Eagle Point branch was to place various posters at libraries throughout the county on a rotating basis.
Eagle Point Library hours are: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 10-4, Thursday 12-6 p.m. Or for information, call 826-3313.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent