Largest Spring Festival in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley Offers Something for All Ages from Dancing to Marathons to Culinary Events to Parades and Fireworks

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Why did the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival begin? Amidst all the fun, what is the history and foundation of a 85 year old festival. In 2012, the festival highlights the ethnic diversity of the region and the love of music. It is hard to find a festival in the United States highlighting more music genres. Whether you are 6 years old or 90 years old there is a Marathon and Dance for you or you can try your hand at making an Apple Pie.

Celebrating the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains

85 Years Serving the Shenandoah Valley

Celebrating the Arrival of Spring in the Shenandoah Valley

Eighty Five Festivals ago (no festivals held in honor of the men and women fighting during the WWII years 1942 through 1945), the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® was born and has become one of the oldest civic celebrations in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 2012, the Festival celebrates a milestone – its 85th Anniversary and the 80th Anniversary of one of the largest Firefighters’ Parades in the world; therefore, it is a double Anniversary year.

Each spring the citizens of Winchester with only four full time staff and 1500 volunteers unite in preparing for the yearly Festival with an annual clean-up and beautification project followed by draping the city in pink, white and green bunting making the city more presentable to guests and spectators. The citizens of Winchester delight in welcoming everyone to their beautiful historical city and the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®.

The Festival is a leader in the development statewide organizations for festivals and special events and has become one of the premier events in the eastern United States. The first Festival was pulled together in eleven days; however, today work on the next festival begins the next day following the previous.

What has changed in 85 years? Having grown up in Winchester, Virginia over fifty years ago, the biggest change is the diversity of the ethnic cultures now represented in the area and of course in the festival. But what has not changed is the love of music and dance. Winchester is the home of Patsy Cline and her legacy lives on in the festival itself. From a Sheetz Thursday Night Fever Disco Dance (sold out) to the Queen's Ball to a Southern Rock Party and more, Shenandoah Valley loves music. Even the more mature audiences have their dances including the Willow's Young at Heart more in the afternoon since this crowd tends to go to bed early!

John Rosenberger, Executive Director, says, "Everyone loves the parades, the circus, the midway and the carnival, but it is the culinary food events, dances, and marathons which give the festival financial security. It is amazing the visitors we pull from the north including Reading, Philadelphia, and Harrisburg A lot of our bands come from this area. We offer a jazz and concert band competition put on by Shenandoah University. These bands literally within two hours cross three to four states so it makes it seem like a big trip. The festival is much more than just about Winchester, our participants come from a radius of Interstate 81."

One of the biggest changes are the two marathons. "Our Kid's Bloomin Mile is our largest growing event," says John. We also have the 10K Race sponsored by Valley Health.

Perhaps one of the biggest contrast at this festival is the separation of the sexes. No one seems to mind in this southern town. The men and the women have their own events from a Stag Luncheon for the younger guys to BB&T's Men's Commonwealth Luncheon for the more refined. The women kick right in with Kimberly's - Pumps and Pearls Ladies Party, to the Walmart Bloomer's Luncheon to the Ladies Horticultural Luncheon.

Tickets are required for these events - contact the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festiva l Ticket Office at 540-662-3863. Dances will have tickets available at the gate. Tickets may also be purchased at the Festival Souvenir Store at Papermill Plaza, 15 Weems Lane, Winchester, Virginia 22602.

Don't forget the Pro-Am Golf Tournament? Celebrities and more. Visit Go Blue Ridge Travel for accommodations and to develop and share your travel itinerary plan. Quite literally this town just wants to throw a party for all ages for ten days. Come join the fun!

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Nancy Craun

Nancy Craun
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