Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Road Trip! Pear Blossom Street Festival - Medford, Oregon

Touted as one of the largest shows in Oregon, the Pear Blossom Street Festival boasts annual attendance between 25,000 and 40,000 visitors.  170+ booths are in place to satisfy absolutely every interest - from political parties to area arts groups (ballet, theater, etc.), a myriad of buy-and-resell booths (makeup, lose weight, healthy hair and food), a number of truly art booths and a variety of food vendors.  This show truly had a bit of everything!

It is held in a converted two block stretch in downtown Medford.  It was a pretty setting, with trees and lawn areas.  The pre-show information was just amazing.  It told us which space we were in, and gave us very specific load-in/out times/locations, as well as where to park our tow vehicle.  We were so excited to participate in what appeared to be a premier and incredibly well-organized event.

Our load-in time was at 6:30 AM on Friday morning; we were there at 6:20.  The uniformed young people (probably high school ROTC members/volunteers) didn't really know what was going on.  Our load-in spot was completely blocked by parked food trailers and the street was impassable.  We were asked to wait across the street for a bit to see if they could get it cleared.  When that didn't happen, we unloaded a block away from our assigned space.  When we asked for directions to our to our assigned parking lot (two blocks away), we were met with blank stares.

We met the lady who was the primary contact for the show one time during our wait to unload, long enough to introduce ourselves.  This show requires commercial liability insurance with a certificate showing the Medford Metro Downtown Association (MMDA) as additional insured.  The pre-show information stated that no one would be allowed to unload until this document was handed to show reps.  Although we had it, we were never asked to present it.

During the two-day show, we saw a young woman in an orange vest who claimed to be show personnel only one time.  She never gave us her name.  She asked if we had any questions and if everything was okay.  We asked her about the load-out time on Saturday being 3:30, when the show went until 5.  Again, we were met with a blank stare.  She explained that she didn't know - this was her first year, but she would find out and let us know.  We never saw her again.

The overall layout of the show was everywhere!  It seemed to us that there were too many vendors for the area and space.  There were even vendors down side streets.  Booths were wedged in nooks so that their frontage was up against the back of other booths.  The layout did nothing to enhance traffic flow so that show visitors would see every booth.

If you wanted to eat, this was a fabulous show.  Nearly a third of all of the booths were food.  But there was almost everything else there to, and we would say that this was the most diverse show we have every been to.  But there was absolutely no direction or theme to it.  Great mix - yes.  Coherent mix - absolutely not.  But this is a street festival, so anything goes.

From the get go, this show was a disappointment.  There were no knowledgeable show organizers to answer simple questions, such as where is my power connection, which way does my booth face, what are the hours, etc.  Electric cords were strung everywhere, creating a liability nightmare of tripping hazards on rain-soaked sidewalks and streets.  Patrons to the show were asking us for directions!

Here is our rating, on a scale of 1 (atrocious) to 10 (spectacular):

Load In/Load Out  3
Avalability of show organizers during show 1
Overall layout and traffic pattern 2
Mix of show 8
Show matched pre-show materials 1
Parking for exhibitors 2
Overall rating  3

Weather Expectations: If you decide to do this show, be prepared for damp rainy weather.  The crowd for this show is used to rain and it did not affect attendance as far as we could tell.

Who should do this show? If you are a take charge individual who can bend with the breeze and make your own decisions, this might be just the show for you.  If this is going to be your first show, find a different show!

Would we recommend this show to other exhibitors? No

Will we do this show again?  No

Next:  Grants Pass!

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