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Blossoming into Spring

A long-delayed festival is on the horizon

By Margo Oxendine, Contributing Columnist

As I sit here in February, closing out a snowy, icy month of gray days, I simply cannot wait for spring. By the time this gets to you, spring will be bursting forth in glory.

T.S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruellest month,” but I don’t agree. After the winter we’ve slogged through, April can be nothing but splendid, right? The flowers are peeking out of the long-frozen ground, the birds are flitting everywhere, green grass is beginning to grow and begging to be mowed. We don’t need to wonder which heavy, warm winter jacket to wear. Bring it on.

Here is what I’m most excited about this April: the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester. There’s plenty of “something for everyone” during the 10 days of the festival. And this year, I hope to be one of those “somethings.”

Due entirely to this column, a kind reader invited me to speak to a group at a luncheon. There could be more than 100 women there, all of them with an interest in horticulture.

I do not fail to see the irony in speaking to a roomful of women with horticultural interests. Thank heavens they will never see my yard. (It can’t even be called a “lawn.”) I chuckle at the very idea.

Keep your face toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you. – Unknown


This plan was first hatched in early 2020, before we were beset by one COVID strain after another. Before we wore masks wherever we went. Before we jockeyed for position in a vaccine or testing queue.

Well, obviously the Apple Blossom Fest did not happen in 2020. Or even in 2021. It simply wasn’t the time to celebrate much of anything, especially with thousands of people. The theme for this year, the 95th of the festival’s history, is “Bloomin’ Good Times.” And aren’t we all more than ready for that? Yes. We are.

The festival runs from April 22 through May 1. There are many wonderful and exciting sights and entertainments on tap. You can see them all and get event tickets at thebloom.com.

I guess one of the most exciting things to me will be the big parade. I’ve been told I can even ride on a float. I don’t recall ever riding on a float, although I’ve longed to do that.

I did march in the Apple Blossom Parade when I was a majorette at VCU. College students and their antics being what they are, I recall very little of that day … except the nonstop fun.

The celebrity grand marshal this year is Terry Bradshaw. I like him, although I don’t know one thing about football. What I remember best are his appearances on Johnny Carson. He was always downright hilarious. I hope I get to meet him. I have no idea what I might say, but it will be fun to give him a big smile, nonetheless.

Another odd tidbit: For several years, my parents used to shepherd Miss Bath County and her court to the festival. One story I remember was that Miss Bath, Aldene Byrd Fry, got to dance with the marshal that year, Gene Barry, who played Bat Masterson on TV. “The only thing I remember is, he was one handsome man.” she says. If I get to dance with Terry Bradshaw, I will endeavor not to trip over my feet. Can’t remember when I last danced.

Truth be told, one thing I’m also excited about is to get out of town, stay in a hotel (first time in two years), and join in a big festival full of fun … it’s apple blossom time.

To order Margo’s book, “A Party of One,” call 540-468-2147 Mon-Thurs, 9-5, or email [email protected].