The (Beach) party’s over
Posted: November 10, 2012
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — Though the 2013 Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival is months away (April 26-May 5), officials are revising the events schedule.
The Firefighters’ Reception, traditionally held on the Thursday night of festival week, will merge with the awards ceremony, which begins after the Firefighters’ Parade on Friday.
“The Firefighters’ Reception was to introduce the firefighters’ marshal,” said John Rosenberger, executive director of the festival. “But that has changed. Most marshals don’t come until the day of the parade due to other commitments and aren’t here for the reception.”
Celebrities for the spring festival generally will only contract for one night, Rosenberger said, adding that in past years, this was not the case.
Also, the Friday night Beach Party will shift to a 1980s theme dance.
“After selling out at least six years in a row, the Beach Party was not drawing the crowds like it used to,” Rosenberger said. “We have had a tremendous appeal for the 1980s music.”
The Reagan Years will perform music from Michael Jackson to Van Halen to Madonna.
“It’s as if the events have an expiration date, and this one came due,” Rosenberger said.
Previously announced this week was the moving of two events and the end of another.
With construction on the Loudoun Street Mall for utility upgrades early next year, the wine festival and Midway will move to other streets in the area.
The circus, meanwhile, will no longer be part of the events due to animal-rights issues.
President Lou Ann Thompson is still optimistic about the festival in the wake of the changes, stressing the need for flexibility.
“Times are changing, and we have to change with [them],” she said. “I am not worried. If we sat around and worried about everything, we wouldn’t have any fun.”
This is the first year of her two-year term as president. She has been involved with the festival since 1974 and became a vice president in 1999.
Looking to the future, Rosenberger and Thompson are investigating the addition of two fall events next year.
“We wanted to do it this year, but ran out of time,” Rosenberger said. “The idea is in the works for a craft-beer festival and a marching band competition.”
Several fall events are in place — the Miss Apple Blossom Festival pageant was held last weekend, the theme announcement will be made Wednesday and a volunteer fair is set for Nov. 17.
Officials feel this would be a good time to add to these events.
The to band competition could help recruit bands for the festival’s Firefighters’ Parade and Grand Feature Parade in the spring, Thompson said.
The number of bands has been dwindling because of the economy, she said, but she wants to add about 25 for the spring — with five already on board.
“We are encouraging high school bands to participate,” she said. “This will help us economically since they bring family and friends to the festival.”
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