PESHASTIN — Competition on the egg field can be brutal.
A grassy lawn dotted with more than 1,500 candy-filled Easter eggs. Hundreds of eager kids. Parents shouting last-minute instructions.
So no wonder little 3-year-old Jazlien Herrera, Wenatchee, got confused. When the egg-hunt countdown ended — “3, 2, 1 … go!” — she set off in the wrong direction, perpendicular to the line of rushing egg seekers.
“I was yelling, ‘Wrong way! Wrong way!’ ” laughed Jazlien’s mom, Manuela Lopez. “But look” — she pointed to Jazlien’s full basket — “it paid off.”
On Saturday, Jazlien outflanked most kids in the 3-year-old (and younger) division of the 9th annual Cascade Foothills Farmland Association’s Easter Egg Hunt at Smallwood’s Harvest, the mega-fruitstand and popular family attraction.
In her pretty Easter frock, first-time egg hunter Jazlien found herself in a clear field, dotted with scores of plastic eggs, and easily filled her basket. Close friend Miranda Kruger didn’t do badly, either, picking up about eight eggs.
“Wow, that was crazy,” said Miranda’s dad, Corey Kruger, of East Wenatchee. “Fifteen hundred eggs gone — woosh! — in less than 30 seconds.”
In all, about 9,700 plastic eggs were placed by organizers and plucked by running, laughing kids — infants to 10-year-olds — in a day of free Easter excitement at one of the largest egg hunts in North Central Washington.
Free activities included the egg hunts, petting zoo, a corn maze and rides on the Cow Train, a tractor pulling cars loaded with kids. An air cannon shot candy and eggs high above the heads of competitors. At intervals, goodies rained on the crowds.
SeaPort Airlines donated four round-trip Wenatchee-to-Portland, Ore., tickets for a raffle to help offset the event’s costs.
Cascade Foothills raises about $3,000 each year to sponsor the hunt, said Hank Manriquez, president of the group. Member donations cover most of the costs.
He said this year’s crowd of about 2,000 kids and parents were mostly local, but many participants also traveled from Seattle, Spokane and Tri-Cities to take part. People began arriving at 8 a.m., he said, for egg hunts that started at 1 p.m.
“The word has spread about what a great thing we have here,” said Manriquez. “The event gets bigger every year.”
Mandy Stocker, of Snohomish, and her son Eli, 3, were visiting friends in Plain, she said, “when someone yelled ‘Easter egg hunt at Smallwood’s!’ So here we are. This is pretty exciting.”
Teri Miller, a Cascade Foothills board member, said this year’s egg hunt also included a division for participants with special needs. “We had eggs on hay bales for kids in wheelchairs, helpers to get eggs where kids couldn’t reach,” she said. About 50 special-needs kids took part in the first-time event.
“This big egg hunt is a great thing for our community,” said Miller. “All the families who’ve taken part in this over the years — well, it’s amazing to think of all the fun people have had.”
She looked around at kids hunting eggs, riding the Cow Train, lined up at the corn maze. “Where else could you have so much fun for free?” she asked. “It’s a real gift for our community.”
Mike Irwin: 665-1179