Leading this year's Pea Soup Days parade will be Beckah and Bryce Whitlock, who were named grand marshals by the Pea Soup Days committee.

"The Whitlocks are good people. Beckah is the Somerset Chamber Executive Secretary and is exceptional. She really got the Somerset Chamber back functioning in a great way. We appreciate her and her husband Bryce for their efforts and wanted to honor them," said Pea Soup Days committee member David Bracht.

As part of the Pea Soup Days committee, Bechak Whitlock had submitted several grand marshal nominations for consideration for this year's honor, but was not present at the meeting when the committee made the final decision.

"When I attended the next meeting it was indicated that we had been chosen and they asked if we would like to be the grand marshals. I was stunned but honored," said Whitlock. "Honestly, we feel like there are so many other people in our community deserving of the title before us, but we're honored and grateful to be named, and think it'll be fun!"

Whitlock has been involved with Pea Soup Days since she took over the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, but it wasn't until the last few years that her whole family was able to participate in the festivities.

"My oldest two sons are on the Autism Spectrum and have other serious physical and mental health diagnoses and for a long time couldn't function around people they didn't know or in large crowds. But thanks to many in our community they are more widely accepted and have made so much progress that you honestly wouldn't know they had any challenges if you didn't know them already," Whitlock said. "So for the last three years our family has helped pick up all the garbage at Pea Soup Days, participated in the carnival and food booths and games, watched the fireworks and the parade. Last year my youngest son, Jake, and I walked in the parade handing out hundreds of the 2018 Somerset Community Guides to our residents and visitors."

The Whitlocks celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary in May and have three sons: Kaleb (14), Josh (12.5) and Jacob (9). The family moved to Wisconsin from Idaho nine and a half years ago to get help for their two oldest sons, who have special needs. Bryce is an assistant manager at Walmart in New Richmond, while Beckah, in addition to being Chamber Executive Secretary, works part-time at My Happy Place, H&R Block and the Somerset School District.

"We've had our challenges and bumps in the road but we love it here! We love our community. We love getting to know new people and helping them," Whitlock said.

With Pea Soup Days starting up Thursday, June 6 and going through Sunday, June 9, Whitlock and her family are excited to take part in the festivities again this year. This year's parade will start at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 8.

"It's a fun, family friendly event where the community comes alive with residents walking around downtown and participating in various events throughout the weekend. Even with a lot of people out my kids feel safe and we get to meet new people every year," Whitlock said. "We love the parade and the carnival. I love the Boy Scouts' pea soup recipe and pulled pork BBQ sandwiches. The boys like the giant snocones and the carnival rides. Bryce is usually working during the weekend of Pea Soup Days so I'm excited he gets to take some time off and experience the weekend with us this year at least for the day. We always love watching the fireworks from our house."

For more information about Pea Soup Days, visit peasoupdays.com.