Our View: What is it with the Landons?

Posted: May 11, 2013

If Apple Blossom affords its patrons anything, it’s an opportunity to pull up a chair and talk. And, from what we heard, one of the topics of conversation this “Bloom” was the coronation of yet another Landon lass as Queen Shenandoah.

For the record, this year’s queen, Rachel Lynn Matthews is the fourth Landon offspring — her mom, Leslie, daughter of the late actor Michael Landon, was the first family member so honored, in 1980 — to wear the crown. So ubiquitous are the Landons among “festival royalty” that some “Bloom” observers have compared them to the Bushes in Republican Party circles.

Such ubiquity bothers Apple Blossom officials not a bit.

“We also have great relations with the family of Billy Graham,” longtime festival executive director John Rosenberger says. “They stay in touch with the festival. It’s an ongoing relationship.”

And, rest assured, Mr. Rosenberger added, asking Rachel to serve as queen should “not be seen as a fallback,” or some manner of default choice. “She as our queen was planned a year in advance,” he said.

By the same token, though, that “ongoing relationship” — and her family’s familiarity with all things Apple Blossom — made Rachel a natural choice for the royal post.

“It’s not easy,” Mr. Rosenberger said, “to get girls to do this anymore.” Hence, that familiarity is important, a plus.

“It’s easier to find people whose values you know match the values of the Valley, people who feel more comfortable here than, say, New York City. If anyone is overwhelmed more than Scotty McCreery, it’s the queen.”

Mr. Rosenberger has a point. These girls are treated like real queens, right down to the constant references to “Your Majesty.” And even if family members have made this same trip into “a make-believe land,” these young ladies really don’t know what it’s like until they experience it themselves.

“At first, it freaks them out,” Mr. Rosenberger says, “but, by Saturday, and the Grand Feature Parade, they’re saying ‘Wow, this is pretty cool.’ The magic works. It’s a crazy thing we do for a week here. But people seem to like it.”

And none more so, by week’s end, than a girl feted and fussed over at every turn.