Putting A Bow On The Bloom

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Greetings from The Booth!

Just some guy stuff today, as we recap the 97th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, which is also the 100th anniversary of “The Bloom.” (There was no Festival during the World War II years). The theme of the Apple Blossom Festival this year was “Locally Grown, Globally Shared,” which means that The Bloom is something that is uniquely ours in the Winchester/Shenandoah Valley area, but we open our hearts to the world every late April/early May. Over the years, it’s become a 2-week “pink & green” party. Like everyone who partakes, I have my own routine and traditions, and I’d like to share the past week with you.

My SABF began the week before last, with the Sponsor’s Reception, which is a gathering of those who represent businesses and organizations that embrace The Bloom. But it feels more like a family reunion. It’s the one time a year when I see some people I don’t see any other time of the year. It’s held at the beautiful George Washington Hotel, which is also celebrating it’s 100th anniversary this year. Great venue, great event, and a nice way to kick off the Festival.

Wednesday night was the Veterans Dinner/Show, a relatively new event, which is held at the spacious Wilkins Center at Shenandoah University. The American Bombshells, a modern-day spin on The Andrews Sisters, were fantastic, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place when they sang “God Bless The USA.” I met some new friends at my table, and was honored to be part of an evening to say “thank you” to those who have served our country.

Thursday and Friday are “play days” at Apple Blossom for me. It’s become a Thursday Bloom tradition for me to have dinner in Old Town Winchester with my wife, and our usual spot is the Piccadilly Public House. Thursday night is the calm before the storm in OTW, as thousands converge on the walking mall on Friday, and Piccadilly is elbow-to-elbow. Not so on Thursday, as we were able to get a table outside, and have a nice meal of a bucket of soda pops, an appetizer, and a couple of pub burgers. Not to mention some nice quality time taking in the vibe of Apple Blossom.

Friday is “guy’s afternoon out” at the Bloom, with the third annual Denny Crane Pub Crawl (an unofficial Bloom event), so-named by yours truly and co-founding member & local musician Ted Barker, because we are both William Shatner fans. The late-morning started with a sandwich and beverage at the British-themed Union Jack, and after a short walk on the mall, back to Piccadilly in time to beat the afternoon crowd. The group Raised On Analog was smokin’, and I even got an unexpected shout-out from the stage from the band (thanks, Adrian!). Alas, the great day ended with me trying to get out of Winchester before things got crazy with the Firefighter’s Parade.

My 2024 Bloom concluded with the Apple Blossom 10k run on Saturday. Over 1000 runners had a cool, damp morning to navigate the 6.2 miles through Winchester–perfect conditions for the participants, not so much for the fans who lined the streets to cheer us on. After a slow first mile, I found my groove and was able to run a respectable 55:28. Not bad for a 64 year-old who ran a half-marathon the week before, and might have been a bit overserved on Friday afternoon. It was nice to end The Bloom on a “runner’s high.”

So, another Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival is in the books, and Bloom Hangover, which is a real thing, has already begun to set in. Until next year, I’ll have some great memories to cherish, and will be ready to make some new ones in 2025!  Happy Bloom from The Booth!