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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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 Coronation of Queen Shenandoah, 1998
Coronation of Queen Shenandoah, 1998 Photo courtesy Virginia Apple Blossom Festival

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

Since 1924, the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival has celebrated the advent of spring in the Shenandoah Valley, as evidenced by the blooming of apple trees. Apple orchards are among the Winchester-Frederick County area's most important natural resources. Held each May in the rural city of Winchester, the festival attracts 300,000 people, who come for the more than 30 events, including a parade and the coronation of Queen Shenandoah, dances, band competitions, the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus, a 10K run, firefighters' events, arts and crafts, entertainment, and games.

Originally a one-day affair, the festival has grown into a six-day event. Its popular outside pageant was developed by Garland R. Quarles into a massive production involving 1,000 local school children, staged on the steps and esplanade of Handley High School. One of the festival highlights, the Firefighters' Parade features a procession of bands, marching units, and fire fighting equipment, followed by a nighttime display of fireworks.

The festival was suspended during World War II, and resumed in 1946 with its first celebrity grand marshals, Bing Crosby in 1948 and Bob Hope in 1949. More celebrities have followed who have included country music stars Buck Owens, Ernest Tubb, Dottie West and Willie Nelson, and television personalities Ed McMahon and Pernell Roberts. During the 1960s, President Lyndon B. Johnson made an official visit. During the 1970s, crowds surpassed 200,000 and the festival added high school band competitions, which have become the largest in the world. A bluegrass festival was introduced in 1990 and a golf tournament in 1994.

The success of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival can be attributed to the energy of its 2,500 volunteers, working with four full-time professionals.

Documentation comprises a video and photographs.

Originally submitted by: Charles S. Robb, Senator.

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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