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
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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