Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival
Many cities and towns across the United States host flower festivals dedicated to blossoming trees. Some of the most famous ones include the International Cherry Blossom Festival in Georgia, the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., and the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia. However, not all festivals of this kind are dedicated to cherries. For example, the city of Winchester, Virginia is known for its Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.

The settlement of Winchester was founded in 1729 by Quakers. During the Revolutionary War, captured Hessian soldiers who were quartered on the Gaize farm west of Winchester would walk north to the ridge to eat apple pies cooked by Quakers. That’s how the Ridge Road became known as the Apple Pie Ridge Road. Winchester is still known for its beautiful apple trees that bloom every spring.

The first Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester was held on May 3, 1924. It was a one-day event featuring a parade, the crowning of Queen Shenandoah, and a program of interpretative dance. The festival has been held every year since then, save for a brief hiatus from 1941 to 1943 during the Second World War. What started as a relatively modest one-day affair has grown to become a spectacular celebration held over nine days in late April and early May.

The highlights of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival include a Grand Feature Parade, Firefighters’ Parade, and the crowning of Queen Shenandoah. The Grand Feature Parade is organized by the Winchester Host Lions Club. Its root stretches from Old Town Winchester to the Handley School area.

The Firefighter’s Parade is coordinated by the Winchester and Frederick County firefighters. Formerly known as the Torch Light and Mummer’s Parade, it exhibits the latest in firefighting equipment, decorated vehicles and marching bands. A guest celebrity serves as the Marshal of the parade.

Traditionally, both parades feature celebrity guests. Past celebrity Marshals and participants include Bing Crosby, Van Johnson, Ed Sullivan, Arthur Godfrey, Bob Hope, Dan Aykroyd, Lucille Ball, Debbie Reynolds, and even U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

The coronation of Queen Shenandoah is one of the oldest and most notable traditions of the festival. It takes place at John Handley High School. The Queen presides over the festivities which include luncheons, parties, arts & crafts shows, concerts, car shows, children’s entertainment, music concerts and contests, square dances, weekends in the park, balls, firework displays, and more.

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

Photo: Becky Gregory




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