Traditional dinner is fit for a queen

Posted: May 3, 2013

The Winchester Star

Queen Shenandoah LXXXVI-designate Rachel Lynn Matthews cuts a slice from the traditional apple pie Thursday evening at the Village at Orchard Ridge Queen’s Dinner. Emcee Barry Lee watches at left. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Matthews looks over the jewelry chest she was given by Henkel-Harris Furniture President Scott Hovermale.

WINCHESTER — As Queen Shenandoah LXXXVI-designate Rachel Lynn Matthews passed under an archway formed by the Randolph Macon Academy Sabre Arch Team, the banquet room she entered seemed brightened by her radiant smile.

Matthews, 19, had the opportunity to meet — and be greeted by — more than 400 of her future subjects during The Village at Orchard Ridge Queen’s Dinner Thursday evening at the Best Western Lee-Jackson Inn and Conference Center on Millwood Avenue.

“This is all about tradition,” said radio personality Barry Lee, master of ceremonies, after Matthews and her maids of honor entered the room. They were preceded by another local tradition, the City of Winchester Pipes and Drums.

Matthews and her mother, Leslie Landon Matthews — the 1980 Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival queen and daughter of former television and film star Michael Landon, who died in 1991 — arrived in Winchester on Wednesday afternoon.

In her non-royal life, Matthews attends the Tisch School of the Arts for Musical Theatre at New York University.

During the ceremony, Lee made light of the fact that Matthews is the fourth member of her family to serve as queen.

“It’s sort of like we’ve collaborated on a miniseries,” he joked. “But we are so excited to have you here.”

Matthews received numerous gifts during the ceremony — a silver apple blossom necklace from Winchester Mayor Elizabeth Minor, an art print of an apple orchard from Frederick County Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard Shickle, a Pandora bracelet from Village at Orchard Ridge board of directors President Lisa Behr, a Tiffany apple from local civic clubs like the Kiwanis and Rotary, and finally, a jewelry box from Scott Hovermale, president of Henkel-Harris Furniture Co.

“I feel beyond blessed,” Matthews said during the ceremony.

“This is my first time in Virginia, and I’m just blown away. I have never seen so much beauty in not only the land but the people, and I feel so honored to be here and share the tradition with my family and now share that with yours.”

Rian Lewis, a Winchester native who now lives in Norfolk, grew up around the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival and has come back the last four springs because one of her friends has driven to the festival from Indiana each year.

Lewis attended her first Queen’s Dinner on Thursday.

“It’s good, it’s festive,” she said after the dinner. “I didn’t know about all the traditions that they had like [giving] all the gifts to the queen, so it’s a pretty sweet gig for her. It’s fun.”

Matthews will be crowned queen during a ceremony at Handley High School at 1:30 p.m. today.

— Contact Matt Armstrong at