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As It Was: 2,000 Mouths Chomp Down on Giant Pear Pie

More than 2,000 mouths chomped down on the world’s largest pear pie at the 1936 Pear and Tomato Festival in Talent, Ore.  Festival-goers consumed it in the evening after admiring it all day as the fair’s central attraction.

During the depression years, businesses had to find new customers or face store closures.  The president of the Talent Chamber of Commerce, Ray Schumacher, hit upon the idea of a pear and tomato festival to celebrate the region’s abundance of the two local products.  As many as 3,000 attended the early October event.

Besides the pear pie, the fair featured a baseball game between the Medford Craters and the Grants Pass Cavemen, although who won has been lost over time.  Tomato growers from one end of the valley to the other competed for agricultural prizes.  The majority went to a Central Point tomato farmer, Otto Bohnert.

With the 1936 election only a month away, a candidate for the State Legislature, James Stevens of Medford, sang several solos for the crowd.

Planning for the following year’s festival began before the first very successful one had closed.

Source: "3000 Attend Talent Pear Festival." Medford News, 9 Oct. 1936, p. 6.

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Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.