Wenatchee World photo/Mike Bonnicksen. Apple Blossom Queen Samantha Allen, at left, and princesses Devyn Huylar and Hayley Brown in 2012.

I grew up in the Wenatchee Valley so I know there are two kinds of people here — those who love the Apple Blossom Festival and those who roll their eyes and high-tail it out of town. Lump me in with the former.

Sure, I’ve guffawed at the crowds and extra traffic with the best of them. I’ve poked fun at the prospect of ending up in the ER after one visit to the Food Fair. I even grit my teeth and begrudgingly agreed to not come home for a visit over Apple Blossom weekend one year because it would just be “too crazy” and “not worth the hassle.”

World photo. The WVC float in the 1956 Apple Blossom Festival parade.

Well, here I am, a proud mother of almost two children, and I’m ready to finally admit to the world that I love Apple Blossom time.

It’s especially fun now that I have a toddler to tote around. There is something to be said for the cliché about seeing the world through your child’s eyes. Parades are more fascinating, funnel cakes are remarkably delicious again, and spending money to watch your toddler catch a rubber duck in a swirling kiddie pool only to win a cheap plastic horn that will collect spittle and dog hair for the next three weeks is a real kick!

1953 Washington State Apple Blossom Queen Carolyn Ellis.

There are a lot of little delights to enjoy as a parent during festival time, but I’m also here to admit something else about all these activities — they’re exhausting. Parades are fascinating (when your 2-year-old isn’t continually tripping over the curb or trying to run out into the middle of a marching band), funnel cakes are delicious (after you find parking, carry toddler to the park, wait with your little wiggle worm in line, find a place to sit, forget the napkins, attempt to sani-wipe Wiggle Worm’s hands so as not to contract the swine flu, cut cake into bite-sized pieces, fight for a piece of your own, and leave covered in powdered sugar, dust, and somehow a balloon), and the carnival is a real kick (to the stomach, when you realize you could have just as easily set up these games in your own backyard and avoided the colossal departure meltdown).

One of the entries in the 1928 Apple Blossom Festival Grand Parade was from Model Laundry and Cleaners, operated by Stewart Brothers.

All that being said, I’m doing it all again this year with excitement and a smile. The exhaustion is all part of the fun and I’d like to encourage you to go for it if you can. Don’t worry, you’ll definitely find me moaning and groaning at the end of the day this Saturday, likely having my own little meltdown and longing for a cold one (four more months to go, but who’s counting). But, if you were to peel back the sweaty, beat-down layers of motherhood, you would find a mom beaming over all the little joys from the day. My husband and I both find that we are most content at the end of the day when we’ve exhausted ourselves for the sake of our child. It’s similar to the exhaustion you feel after a tough workout, but the memories are sweeter.

So here’s to you, hard-working moms and dads whom I respect and admire. If you’re turned off by the thought of Apple Blossom pandemonium with your littles but you’re physically able, get out and get exhausted! Even if it becomes meltdown city and you can’t get home fast enough, I can guarantee you the experience will be peppered with some moments that will make your mommy and daddy hearts flutter.

World photo/Mike Bonnicksen. Chloe Blackburn, at left and Madsyn Vickery of Room 2 Bloom Preschool wave to the crowd at the 2016 Youth Parade.

Bring sunscreen, plenty of water and whatever snacks hold your lovable little ones over, and I’ll see you out there! Look for the pregnant lady juggling a toddler, water bottles and whatever kitschy parade token we ran into along the way.

World photo/Don Seabrook. Judy Guist, Portland, marches down the parade route with her baton twirlers from The Beat Goes On Band in 2015.