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Greetings From The Booth!
Some sad news from The Booth to report. Former WUSA9 sportscaster Ken Mease passed away recently. He was 80, and according to family members, had been suffering from dementia. Which would certainly explain why we didn’t see Ken at this year’s Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, where he was inducted into the SABF Sports Hall Of Fame. In addition to being a solid sportscaster on Channel 9 in DC, Mease was the longtime MC at the Apple Blossom Sports Breakfast, and was deserving of his HOF honor.
There are two kinds of Festival celebrities: those who fly or drive in, fulfill their obligations to the bare minimum, and head back out of town. I won’t name names. And there are those who fall in love with the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival and the Winchester area, and want to soak up all the vibe of the Bloom. Ken Mease was one of the latter. He came to embrace the Festival, and was a big part of it every year. Because of conflicting obligations, I’ve never attended a Sports Breakfast, but I had the pleasure of hearing Ken speak at some other Bloom events at which he made appearances. Over the years, he became one of us. We lift our pink and green cups to Ken Mease! He will be missed.
Changing gears, the high school football season kicked off this past Friday, with one notable exception. The Skyline Hawks were scheduled to play the Strasburg Rams in the opener for both teams. However, the game didn’t happen, because of some social media posts that threatened the safety of fans at Proctor Field in Strasburg. Details are still coming in, and local law enforcement are still investigating. Suffice it to say that officials made the right call to cancel the game, erring on the side of safety. That should always be the priority.
It’s a sad commentary that we live in an age where someone can shut down a sporting event with a negative social media post. Players on both teams had prepared all Summer (and longer) for what should have been a special night. The high school football schedule is just 10 games long, and for seniors especially, each one is precious. Now, it’s simply an unplayed game they can’t get back.
There are those who blame the worlds ills on social media. I say it’s simply a medium through which both good and evil flow. Social media has connected us in ways we would not have thought possible 40 years ago. It has also been a conduit for hate, bullying, and worse. We must all have our radar up so that our teams and fans can safely enjoy football on a Friday night.
Anything less is unacceptable.
Until the next time from the Booth…be safe, be diligent, and be true to your school!
Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® Board of Directors unanimously elected
Sharen E. Gromling to serve as the organization’s President for a two-year term beginning on Monday,
June 27, 2022. Gromling replaces now Past President, Thomas (Tommy) Price who served as President
for the 94th and 95th Festivals.
Sharen has volunteered with the Festival for the past 42 years. She first started working with other
City of Winchester officials hosting the Mayor’s Luncheon held immediately before the parade at the
Jim Barnett Park War Memorial Building. Although this event is no longer held, for years it brought
Mayors from all over the region to our Festival to ride in the parade. Prior to becoming a Festival Vice
President she also co-chaired the Celebrity Luncheon which was held for dignitaries and celebrities
prior to the Grand Feature Parade and was the Chair of the Queen’s Dinner, an event that offered
attendees a look at the Queen Designate and her Court as they entered through a Sabre Arch and the
traditional cutting of the Queen’s Apple Pie.
When asked why the Festival is important to her, Sharen stated “For me it’s about the people. I love
seeing this community open its arms to people from all over who come together to celebrate the
apple industry and the beautiful blossoms. The happy look on a child’s face, the laughter of friends
and family coming together for a special moment in time, watching an army of dedicated, hardworking volunteers pull off this 40+ events, 10-day festival – that’s what makes the Festival special to
Sharen and her husband Tom, a local dentist, will celebrate 44 years of marriage later this month.
They have two children, 34 year-old Tim and 33 year-old Wendy. Tom and Sharen enjoy spending
time with their family and friends, traveling especially to Disney, running races and riding their tandem
bike. Sharen serves as the Executive Director of Our Health, Inc., a regional health and human services
nonprofit. Prior to this she served as the Director of Administration and Human Resources for the City
of Winchester for 30 years.
For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.
This year’s Grand Marshall for the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival was Terry Bradshaw.
He was excited to finally make it to the festival after originally signing on two years ago.
Bradshaw was impressed by the amount of Steeler’s fans in the area and has his own ties to the region.
His favorite song to sing with his daughter is “Crazy” by Winchester native Patsy Cline.
Bradshaw said, “we have been singing that song together since she was 3 years old but my daughter is a much better singer than I am.”
The Hall of Fame quarterback reflected on his career and said what he is most proud of are his four Super Bowl victories.
“Anybody can have stats but to be a great quarterback you have to win,” said Bradshaw.
He then went on to discuss some of his favorite quarterbacks to watch play currently, “Tom Brady, Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes, and Matt Stafford have the stats and can win.”
When turning his focus to the newest Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett he said, “I got to speak with him the day after he was drafted and congratulated him. Pittsburgh is a great franchise and will put him in a position to succeed. It’s the perfect fit. He’s smart and competitive.”
Terry also believes that Carson Wentz should succeed in Washington with the Commanders, “as long as he gets protection. He was unfairly criticized after his injury, but I am rooting for him. He’s a good person and I like to root for good people.”
The headliner, Sam Grow, returned for his third Apple Blossom but the first as the main performer.
Grow said, “The number one reason I wanted to come back is because of the people. These are amazing, salt of the earth people. When they called and asked me to headline, I was honored.”
Ryan Jewell, a Warren County High School alumni, was excited to return to the festival for his second year in a row. “I love having the event back at the Wilkins Center. The energy is much better this year with a full slate of events,” said Jewell.
Kara Britz, an alumni of John Handley High School, also graced the stage taking time out of her schedule which includes touring with former Country Music Party headliner Blake Shelton and backing up artists on The Voice.
Greetings from The Booth!
The Booth this week is festooned in pink and green bunting as we celebrate the 95th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival. The “Bloom” is one of my favorite times of year, as the Winchester area shuts down and goes into party mode with 40 events in 10 days, many of them sports-related. There are Apple Blossom Golf and Tennis Tournaments, an Apple Blossom 10k, a Kids Bloomin’ Mile, and this year, a new E-Sports Tournament.
But the centerpiece of the Festival as it pertains to sports is the Apple Blossom Sports Breakfast. This event is held on the last Saturday of the Bloom and features some top sports celebrities and also honors a “Sports Breakfast Hall Of Fame” class. This years HOF inductees include James R. Wilkins, a great local athlete back in the day, and an even greater philanthropist. The Wilkins Center at Shenandoah University is, of course, named after Mr. Wilkins. Through his generosity, that showplace now exists on the SU campus. That is just one example of how Mr. Wilkins has given back to his community.
The Sports Breakfast also honors some of our local athletes, and this year, that group includes the Hornets’ own Olivia Weinel, who is not only a stellar Basketball player, but excels in the classroom. In addition to Olivia, some athletes from our local high schools will be recognized, a huge moment that they will always remember.
And, in attendance every year are some really big names in sports, and 2022 is no exception. Terry Bradshaw is the overall Grand Marshal of the 95th Bloom, not to mention basketball’s “Dr. J,” Julius Erving. A few words about each…
Some of the younger sports fans out there may only know Bradshaw from the Sunday Fox NFL Pregame Show, as he banters back and forth with Howie and Jimmy and the rest of the crew. But it was Terry Bradshaw that quarterbacked the Pittsburgh Steelers to 4 Super Bowl titles in the decade of the 70s. The Pittsburgh “Steel Curtain” defense grabbed most of the headlines in that era, but Bradshaw saved his best for the big moments, namely the Super Bowl. With a flick of the wrist, Bradshaw launched bombs to the likes of Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, usually when the Big Game was on the line.
He was also involved in one of the biggest plays in NFL history, the “Immaculate Reception,” a play that’s been analyzed more than the Zapruder film. By now you know about this miracle play that happened in the 1972 playoffs. It can be argued that without the Immaculate Reception, there would have been no Steeler dynasty in the 1970s. Post-football, Bradshaw has parlayed his “yokum” persona into a very successful career, but don’t be fooled. You can’t succeed as a quarterback in the NFL without a high IQ. He is also a very good speaker, and is well worth seeing at the Sports Breakfast.
As for Dr. J, Julius Erving, he was the reason every kid in my neighborhood wanted one of those ABA red white and blue basketballs. Before his stint in the NBA, Erving was a member of the Virginia Squires and the New York Nets, and along with players like George “Iceman” Gervin, was part of a colorful group of ABA players. If the NBA was Classical, the ABA was Jazz, and Dr. J. was the Miles Davis of b-ball. He is probably the reason the NBA has a dunk contest. (remember his highlight dunk, sailing through the air from the foul line?) Erving is one of the great elder statesmen and ambassadors of the game of basketball and makes a house call this Saturday at The Bloom!
Have a great Apple Blossom and until the next visit from The Booth…GO HORNETS!
It’s Apple Blossom Festival Week, and the Wake-Up Crew celebrates with “Bloomin’ With Barry” as we share Festival Memories with the long time local radio morning icon. This morning, Randy & Barry talk about the perfect food to eat during commercial breaks of the Grand Feature Parade TV broadcast, something that became a tradition in their 15 years of working together. Enjoy!
In the latest edition of the SRR, Riverkeeper Mark Frondorf recaps Earth Day and looks ahead to the 95th Bloom and the First Responders Parade on Friday. Brought to you by Front Royal Outdoors. Let them get you out on the beautiful South Fork this Spring! Visit https://frontroyaloutdoors.com