A Festive Return to a Beloved Tradition

Winchester’s Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival celebrates its 95 anniversary over ten days this April.

(Photo courtesy of Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®)

What started as a one-day event with a pleasant parade turned into a ten-day smorgasbord with over 40 events in the following 98 years. The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester continues its long tradition of parades, sporting events, and pageants this April 22 through May 1. Dan Veach, executive director of the festival, says that the “festival has sustained itself through the support of the community all these years.”

It all began in 1924 in the Northern Shenandoah Valley region known for growing many of the apples that make Virginia the sixth-largest apple-producing state in the country—between California and North Carolina. Veach notes the festival “is focused on the apple industry, showcasing its relevance in the region.” This year, one event will feature an apple-themed breakfast where the kids can meet Miss Apple Blossom while parents can taste apple treats and drink apple cider. There will also be a tasting and orchard tour of a local cidery—each year showcasing a different one.

Dan Veach is happy to note that “we are getting back to many of our traditional events.” One of the first traditions is the crowning of the Queen Shenandoah—which has included President Lyndon B. Johnson’s daughter, Luci, in 1964. The parade route stretches from Old Town Winchester, to the John Handley High School, where the queen’s coronation takes place. Pink and green are everywhere, as they are the official colors. After all, what other color combination says, spring. One of the reasons for the festival is to promote community and, as Veach says, “to create opportunities with the apple growers and overall industry.” 

Though it was canceled in 2020, it did have a more pared-down celebration in 2021. And of the 2022 celebration, Veach says, “We are getting back to many of our traditional events, letting people know that it’s still very much alive.” And though they are still working with Covid restrictions, this year two new events—the Esports Competition (aimed at the younger crowd) and the Veterans Dinner Show (which partners with some of the local veterans groups)—will hopefully help to “maintain the festival’s relevance and create memories,” as Veach puts it. www.thebloom.com

Konstantin Rega
A graduate of East Anglia’s renowned Creative Writing MA, Konstantin’s been published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Poetry Salzburg Review, www.jonimitchell.com, the Republic of Consciousness Prize (etc.). He contributes to Publisher Weekly and Treblezine.
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