I am continually amazed at how the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival has been able to retain its small-town, community feel, even in this its 92nd year.
That’s a testament to the kind of people who live here.
The All Service Club Luncheon, which was held yesterday at the Wenatchee Convention Center, is a great example. As always, it was an authentically Wenatchee event, complete with a few Cougar-Husky jokes, the zaniness of the Exchange Club, and a healthy dose of small-town Americana.
Dr. Gene Kupferman was honored as the Apple Citizen of the Year for his contributions over more than three decades in tree fruit research at Washington State University. Also honored were parade grand marshals Dr. Bill Steward, former president of Wenatchee Valley College and what was then North Central Washington Museum, and Wilfred Woods, retired publisher of this newspaper.
Woods made mention that the festival is all about youth and how important it has been to have the royalty represent this valley so well over the years.
Coach Ed Knaggs and Jim Corcoran of the Wenatchee AppleSox baseball team received a special honor as the sports team of the year.
The message from keynote speaker Rich Rice of Medical Teams International put the spotlight on the culture of contribution that exists not only in our communities but in service all over the globe.
Rice, a former executive with Kellogg’s in central Washington, talked about his recent trip to the earthquake and tsunami-devastated areas of Japan. He showed a photograph of a blossoming tree amid the devastation and talked about “people recognizing hope in cherry blossoms.”
“Bad things happen in the world. The question is what are you going to do about it?” he asked. The organization, which is based in Portland, operates in 52 countries and has helped meet the medical needs of 2.5 million people in disasters and civil strife.
But the heart of his message was this: One person or one organization isn’t going to solve the overwhelming problems that occur in natural disasters.
“It’s not always the work we do,” said Rice. “Sometimes it’s just showing up.”
And that is indeed what happens in towns across North Central Washington. People in this neck of the woods show up when the need arises.