Some Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® participants will have a new way to remember everyone’s favorite event of the year. For the first time in its history, Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® will issue commemorative license plates to recognize and thank those who graciously donate their time and vehicles to carry celebrities for the GloFiber Grand Feature Parade. Access Independence, Inc. is proud to be sponsoring this initiative for years to come.
The idea was conceived by Access Independence, Inc. Executive Director Charles Harbaugh IV, as a way to recognize and thank convertible owners for donating their time and use of their vehicle for celebrities to appear in the parade. The license plates also help professionalize the parade entries, while enhancing and improving event security for celebrities and law enforcement. Harbaugh said, “We are thrilled to help the festival in any way possible, and we thought this was a cool, fun idea to thank those who donate their time and car to be entered in the parade. It’s a lot to ask for people with antique cars to use their vehicle, rain or shine, and we are very thankful for them.”
Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® Executive Brad Veach said, “When Charles approached me with the idea of the official car license plates for the GloFiber Grand Feature Parade, I recall getting goosebumps and smiling as I responded with an immediate “yes.” Working with other non-profit organizations is important to the Festival, and we are grateful and pleased to partner with Access Independence, Inc. to start a new Festival tradition with the official car license plates."
Access Independence, Inc. is a non-profit organization that, since 1985, has been supporting individuals with disabilities living in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.
The City of Winchester Police Department has issued a helpful parking restrictions, detour routes and safety tips for the public to reference during the 95th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.
Winchester, VA – The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® has named the 2022 inductees to the Apple Blossom Sports Hall of Fame. These four individuals will be recognized for their contribution to sports across the region at 8:00 am during the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast on Saturday morning, April 30, 2022, at the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletic and Event Center, 1188 Ralph Shockey Drive. General admission tickets are now for $45 and are available at www.thebloom.com.
“Horsefeathers!” This word belongs to Bob Brown. He often used it in coaching the many youth who played baseball with him and it is still a favorite word. It’s a good clean expletive that gets his point across as he works with Winchester Baseball’s Bambinos.
The Bambino League is a nonprofit organization under tax classifications of baseball for recreation, sport, leisure, and athletics. The stated goal is described as the teaching of baseball fundamentals, good sportsmanship, and good citizenship. Commonly known as Winchester Baseball, its internet homepage says: “the success of Winchester Baseball can be seen in the induction of its President Bob Brown in 2010; in 2015 Winchester Baseball became only the second league in Babe Ruth Southeast Regional history to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.”
Brown, like many of the best athletes of the area, started young, playing on Arlington, VA’s first little league team. He went on to be an All-State athlete in both baseball and basketball in high school. Parade Magazine picked him as an All-American in basketball and an All-Metropolitan second baseman. In 1956 the American Legion team on which he played won the Legion Championship. After high school, Bob went to Wake Forest on a baseball scholarship and participated in major league affiliated summer programs. Catching the eye of major league scouts, he was invited to try out for the Yankees, the Cardinals, the Braves, and signed with the Orioles after graduating. Brown’s background gave him all the fundamentals he needed to lead youngsters into the sport.
But desiring a secure and reliable income, in 1972 Brown came to Winchester becoming the owner of Bauserman Oil Company. He missed daily interaction with baseball. He missed the camaraderie. He missed teaching others what he had learned of the sport. In 1988 he began his tenure with Winchester Baseball as a coach and became its president in 1993. His belief in the game and its positive effects on our youth is such that he continues to be the President of Winchester Baseball. Baseball, says Brown, “teaches baseball fundamentals, good sportsmanship and good citizenship.”
Ivy Brown Tyson, Bob Brown’s sidekick, number one volunteer, and the mother of extraordinary
athletic sons herself, described Coach Brown with three words: fierce, competitive, and loving. Ivy said, “He teaches them baseball but he also teaches them to be young men.” Ivy’s accolades of Bob ring true. He managed the first All Star team – Bambino League- in 1991. Following the 1991 World Series Play, Brown’s new aims were to hold district play and regular tournaments in Winchester. To this end, he developed a coach training program. Brown joined with Winchester Parks and Recreation to help develop a plan to make the facilities up-to-date and welcoming to out-of-town teams. With the help of many businesses and generous individuals giving time and materials and money the facilities were soon tournament level.
Brown added to his list of awards both the Washington, D.C. Hall of Fame and the Home Plate Hall of Fame Club in 2007. This extraordinary effort of a state-of-the-art facility, along with his coaching, saw Bob Brown selected to the South East Regional Hall of Fame in 2010 and in 2011 the City of Winchester dedicated the baseball field as the Bob Brown Youth Complex.
In addition, Brown’s teams were consistent winners of district, state, and regional championships. In 2011 Brown was the manager of the very first 10-year-old World Series team. They were second in the country!
Bob Brown had a vision and he made it a reality. Thanks to Bob Brown, a multitude of young boys are now young men.
Charles Cecil Chapman, known as “Sonny,” was a champion in the eye of the community as the voice and chair of the Apple Blossom Sports Breakfast for some 20 years. His leadership in this capacity was a significant influence not only in Winchester and Frederick County but in the surrounding area.
His impact on the culture of sports is evidenced as in his saying that “Apple Blossom is my favorite holiday” and following that, at every department chair meeting, he would announce “there will be a sports breakfast this year.” He would grin and tease the group by giving away no celebrity athlete attendees.
Chapman’s co-chair for a number of years was Jim Gowdy, now an Apple Blossom Vice-President. Gowdy reminisces that Sonny shaped the Sports Breakfast with his organizational skills from securing a venue to preparing the budget. Gowdy said, “Sonny managed people…but his greatest challenge was to keep Russ Potts, co-founder of the event to a timetable.” For Sonny, it was all about sports and the breakfast was his way to show the importance of sports during his favorite holiday.
His wife of 45 years, Carol, shared with pride some of the many civic activities in which Sonny was instrumental. Sonny, she said, was involved in starting the Ken Thomas Golf Tournament, a Child-Parent Center raiser, gave much time and effort to Doo Dah Day (remember the song Camptown Races), a celebration for children and their families with a parade, race, games, and activities. Along with all these responsibilities, he was active with the Red Cross and the First Presbyterian Church in Winchester.
There was a calmness about Sonny Chapman. Past-President Mike Stanfield related that Sonny, as O’Sullivan Transportation Manager and prior manager of Smith’s Transfer Corporation, served his community often through the Exchange Club of Winchester as president and as one of the original founders of the Exchange Club’s Child Parent Center. Chapman also served on the Frederick County Parks and Recreation Board. He patiently got the importance of sports out to the community.
Chapman believed in sports. He saw them as a way to create camaraderie, team and community bonding, good physical fitness, and a sense of celebration. His influence on sports leaves a lasting legacy.
Brenda K. Neal has dedicated herself to students since 1978 when she graduated from Shepherd College with a degree in health, physical education, and driver’s education. Not stopping there, Brenda earned a Masters of Communication in Education, along with professional endorsements as a secondary principal and administrator. With meticulous planning and a strong belief in the importance of athletics and all types of sports, her curriculum vitae is not only impressive and scholarly but also emphasizes her philosophy that athletics builds social and cognitive skills.
Starting her career in the Winchester Public Schools at Handley High School as a teacher of kinesiology for grades 9-12, she was also the basketball, softball, and volleyball coach. For her ability as a basketball coach, she garnered three Winchester Star Coach of the Year awards and her teams won six Northwestern District titles. That’s just basketball!
Looking at volleyball, Neal coached the teams to six more Northwestern District titles, four Apple Capital Tournament championships. To her went three more Star Coach of the Year awards and the title of Virginia High School League All-Star Coach. Her ability was so recognized that she was named Director of the Virginia High School League’s All-Star Games from 1990-1998 and held a place on the National Federation of High Schools Volleyball Rules Committee.
In 2004 Neal added to her sports responsibilities. After becoming the principal/lead teacher of Winchester Schools’ Alternative Learning Center, she rose to the position of Assistant Principal at John Handley High School where she organized what were known as “Study Circles” for students. These circles focused on diversity and building self-confidence for high achievement. She achieved this model along with all the regular assistant principal responsibilities of schedules and budgets and discipline. Her name was added to the Hunter Maddex Hall of Fame at Handley in 2004.
During her years at Handley High, she left her mark with a variety of training skills to help other teachers and coaches: cognitive coaching, effective decision making, and the most important APL strategies which help teachers with student time-on-task and classroom management. Her excellence was also recognized as Neal is a featured cast member in the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development’s video titled “Catch Them Being Good.”
Leaving her legacy of excellence in Winchester, Brenda became the Director of Access at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg, WV in 2009. Blue Ridge CTC had once been part of Shepard College but had since been accredited as an independent institution. After several years as Director of Access, Neal was named as Associate Dean of Student where for the last nine years she supervised admission counselors, oversaw disability services, testing services, and student affairs. She retired in 2021. However, Blue Ridge still needs her service and expertise, and she is there still on a part time basis. Brenda said, “Oh, I work about 20 hours a week.” Retirement?
Neal is a reader, a hiker, and a golfer and likes warmer climates after 43 plus years of giving herself to education. Why her dedication, particularly to athletics? Brenda answered this by saying that besides the health benefits, “athletics teaches finding a common goal, achieving as a team, and finding that you do not need to be in the spotlight alone. We all achieve best in teams.”
JIMMY WIILKINS, JR.
James R. Wilkins, Jr., athlete, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, is the living example of how many of us would like to be considered in our home towns. A past-president of Apple Blossom, 1977 and 1978, Jimmy continues to sit on the Executive Board. He brings knowledge, savvy business acumen, and Festival history to the table. Always open to a chat about all things Festival, Wilkins gives advice to Festival committees as a guide, mentor, and coach.
An abbreviated overview of Wilkins life is best begun as an eighth grader at John Handley High School in Winchester. The year is 1959 and Coach Jimmy Omps noted there were only three athletic teams for males; football, basketball, and track and field. Coach Omps, himself, was a Handley graduate and knew intimately the grass football field, the “cracker box” basketball gym, and the 440-yard cinder track. Omps recognized in junior varsity Wilkins a competitive spirit and outstanding athletic ability. “Without a doubt,” said Omps, “he is one of the best all-round athletes ….” Omps noted that as a youngster, Jimmy had large hands and is proud that he has used those hands to bestow his financial gifts on his community.
Jimmy, the outstanding athlete, made All-State teams in all three of Handley’s sports, was inducted into Handley’s Hunter Maddex Hall of Fame and received in 1966 the first Handley “Medal of Honor” for service to the school system. Wilkins’ fond memories of Handley High as the quarterback of the 1960s, are reflected in the football field being named the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Stadium in 2009.
Returning home after college (with a cross-country record or two), he worked with his father in real estate and was President of Wilkins ShoeCenter, Inc. founded in 1947. Son, James R. “Ritchie” Wilkins III works with his father in the family businesses. Jimmy is married to Veronica “Roni” Flett.
Wilkins serves on the Shenandoah Battlefield Preservation Foundation, the Bank of Clarke County Foundation, Winchester Equipment Corporation Board and Handley High Centennial Committee. Over the years, Wilkins has received many leadership, community service, retail, and realty awards. He also has fire department awards and forestry/tree farmer awards. He served on Winchester’s Common Council for two terms and served on various bank boards. A public event was dedicated to James R. Wilkins, Jr. by the French & Indian War Foundation. The topic was “Handley High School: The Jeffersonian Soul of Winchester.”
Additionally, Jimmy has been dedicated to Shenandoah University where the Wilkins family has been known and celebrated since his father, James R. Wilkins, Jr., was instrumental in having the college move from Dayton, VA to Winchester. Now, the newest, largest, most impressive sports and event center in the region is opened: James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics and Events Center. The huge 77,000 square foot facility, opened in 2017 will serve the university and the community. Wilkins was awarded the SU President’s Medal for service to the university in 2018.
Marjorie Lewis, Chair of the SU Board of Trustees, told the audience at the naming ceremony for the
center that Jimmy’s “got a huge love and commitment to sports.” She added that he was generous and wonderful, but it was not his money but rather his years of “time, dedication, and energy” which earned him the honor. And it is now one of the most used facilities for Festival events.
Winchester, VA – Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® President, Tommy Price, is pleased to announce the area’s top high school and college student-athletes. Students are chosen each year to represent their school during the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast which takes place during the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® on Saturday morning, April 30, 2022, at 8:00 am inside the Tolley Dental Zone James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center on the campus of Shenandoah University.
The 2022 outstanding local student-athletes include:
Ethan Caperton, Skyline High School
Ethan has earned 6 varsity letters at Skyline (3 football/3 basketball). He has started at wide receiver and quarterback in football. In the Spring 2021 season, he was selected 2nd Team All-Class 3 Northwestern District as a quarterback. He was asked to play quarterback as an injury replacement. As quarterback, he led the team to a district title. In the fall 2021 season, Caperton was selected 1st Team All-Class 3 Northwestern District as a wide receiver and defensive back. Likewise, Ethan earned 1st Team All-Region 3B honors for wide receiver and 2nd Team All-Region 3B for defensive back. In basketball, Caperton has been a 3-year starter and earned 2nd team All Class 3 Northwestern District in 2021. During the 2022 season, he earned 1st team All-Class 3 Northwestern District and 2nd team All-Region 3B. He played a big role in the basketball team’s 2021 District Championship and Regional Runner-Up finish. Likewise, he helped lead the basketball team to the 2022 Region 3B Championship and into the state quarterfinals.
Ethan is a quiet, well-spoken young man that provided steadfast leadership for the football and basketball teams. He played multiple positions on the field because that was what is best for the team. He sacrificed and played through multiple injuries during his football and basketball career.
Ethan is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Ethan has a 3.9 GPA and is actively pursuing the opportunity to attend Bridgewater College and study engineering. He would also like to play football and/or basketball.
Allee Jerles, Mountain View Christian Academy
Allee Jerles, a senior at Mountain View Christian Academy, has a huge heart for sports. She has played basketball since the 5th grade, but her passion is volleyball. Allee is also playing soccer this year. She was captain of both the volleyball and basketball teams this year and was selected for the All- Tournament Team at the NCSAA volleyball tournament in 2021. In addition to sports, Allee maintains a GPA of 3.4 while working at Mountain View in the after-school and summer care programs. Allee is a member of the National Honor Society and has served as both historian and secretary of the Student Government Organization. Allee plans to attend Lord Fairfax Community College for the first two years of her college education and then transfer to a university to get her business degree as part of her dream to be a real estate agent.
Avery O’Roke, Millbrook High School
Avery is an 18-year-old senior at Millbrook High school. She was a 4-year starter for The Lady Pioneers varsity basketball team. She is this year's Winchester Star Player of The Year. Avery was also named to the First Team Class 4 All State team this season. Also, during this past season, Avery was named First Team All-District, First Team All-Region and awarded Co Regional Player of the Year. She scored her 1,000 points during a shortened junior year season. Avery's sophomore season, she was named Second Team All-State and First team in both the District and Region. She has also received the Pioneer Award the last 3 years from Millbrook High School for varsity basketball. Avery maintains a 3.9 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society and has participated in the Leo Club and FCCLA. Avery will play basketball on a full athletic scholarship for NCAA Division 1 (American East Conference), New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Dain Booker, Clarke County High School
Dain Booker has earned both his Academic and Varsity letters at Clarke County High School. He has earned 3 for football, 3 for basketball, and will be completing his 3rd letter in track this season. His honors in football include 1st Team All-Bull Run District Defensive All Purpose and 1st Team All-Region 2B Defensive All Purpose. In the last few games of his senior year, he learned a new position as linebacker due to an injured teammate and picked up the honor of 2nd Team All-Area Team Linebacker through The Winchester Star. Dain earned the Iron Eagle award in 2020 for lifting 1200 Pounds in a combined 4 lifts, (Bench, Squats, Hang Clings and Dead Lift.) In basketball, Dain has been a 3-year starter and team captain his senior year. He earned the Un-Sung hero plaque by his coach. In 2021, Dain was the 2nd leader on the team in total points earned. He earned All-District in 100 and 200 Meter Dash, 4x100 M Relay, Triple and Long Jump. All-Region and All-State for 4x100 M Relay.
Dain has maintained a 4.1 GPA all throughout High School and will be attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida in the fall. He will train to be a commercial pilot and earn a degree in Aeronautical Science with a minor in Meteorology.
Ella Carlson, Sherando High School
Ella has been an athlete at Sherando all 4 years, receiving 7 varsity letters (3 basketball; 4 track and field). She was the starting center on the varsity girls’ basketball team for 3 years and received 1st team All-District honors as a senior. Ella also took 2nd place in the discus as a freshman at the state meet but came back as a junior to claim the state title as well as placing 2nd in the shot put.
Ella has a 4.1 GPA and has signed a letter of intent with the College of William and Mary to continue her track and field career.
Jaden Ashby, James Wood High School
Jaden has earned 10 varsity letters at James Wood (4 football/3 basketball/3 baseball). He has been a 3-year starter at wide receiver in football. He broke 11 records at James Wood (most points scored single season + career/most receiving yards single season/longest run 99 yards/average yards per carry 9.6 single season/touchdowns single season 25/touchdowns career 42/most receiving touchdowns single season + career/longest receiving touchdown 97 yards/receiving touchdowns single game 4/also tied touchdowns in a single game with 5). He was selected 2nd team All-Northwestern District wide receiver, also 1st team Winchester Star at wide receiver and punt/kick return his sophomore year. His junior year no honors were given due to covid-19. He was selected 1st team Winchester Star (wide receiver, kick returner, defensive back) 2nd team punt returner. He was selected 1st team Northwestern District (wide receiver, punt returner) 2nd team (defensive back, kick returner). He was selected All-Region 1st team (offensive all purpose, punt returner) 2nd team wide receiver his senior year.
In baseball, Jaden was a 3-year starter in the outfield earning Winchester Star honors. In basketball, Jaden was 3-year starter at guard. Jaden has also earned Northwestern District All-Academic Honors.
Jaden has a 3.5 GPA and has signed with D1 Southern Utah University to play football.
Stephen Daley, John Handley High School
Stephen has earned 10 varsity letters at John Handley High School (4 football / 2 basketball / 4 track and field). He was a 4-year starter in multiple positions on both offense and defense in football. He broke Handley’s rushing yards in a single game record and career sack record. He was selected 2nd team All-Northwestern District Defense his freshman year. He was selected 1st team All-Northwestern District and 2nd team All-Region 4C Defense his sophomore year. Stephen’s junior year he was named All-Northwestern District Defensive Player of the Year and was selected 1st team All-Region 4C Defense. In his senior year, Stephen was named All-Northwestern District Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year along with All-Region 4C Defensive Player of the Year. He was also selected as 1st team All-Region 4C Offense. Stephen earned All-State Honors for both Offense and Defense his senior year. Stephen received Winchester Star honors in each of his 4 seasons of football with ending his senior year as both Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year.
In track and field his freshmen year, Stephen was a member of the 4x100 meter relay team which broke a school record and placed 2nd in the Class 4 state championship. Unfortunately, due to COVID there was not a track/field season his sophomore year. Stephen’s junior year he placed 3rd in the 100 meters, 5th in the discus and 5th as a member of the 4x100 meter relay in the Class 4 state championship. This past winter Stephen placed 4th in shot put at the Class 4 indoor track state championship. His senior outdoor track and field season is currently ongoing where he intends on competing at the Class 4 state championship in June.
In basketball, Stephen was a 4-year member of the basketball team, earning his two varsity letters in his junior and senior years. His junior year the basketball team was State runner-up.
Stephen has a 3.63 GPA and has signed a letter of intent with Kent State University to play football.
Mikayla Combs, Legacy Christian Academy
Mikayla Combs is the daughter of Christine and Andy Combs. She is a senior at Legacy Christian Academy in Stephens City. She started all 4 years for varsity basketball at LCA. In her senior year she scored 184 points and had 95 rebounds. She has been selected on multiple all tournament teams and she has won offensive MVP twice and overall most valuable player once in her basketball career while playing for Legacy. Her coach said, “As the only senior on the team, her leadership was an important part of what we were able to accomplish”. Mikayla also played volleyball for Legacy for 3 years in the middle position. She helped her team to win their first National Championship for volleyball in the school's history. She has a GPA of 4.0 and is the president of the Honor Society at Legacy. She also enjoys serving her community through her church. She was accepted to James Madison University in the fall of 2022 to major in Business and Biology and hopes to work in the medical field someday.
Will Austin Waller, Warren County High School
Will Austin Waller, a senior at Warren County High School, has earned 3 varsity letters in Wildcat Baseball, 2 in Basketball and 1 in Golf. As a right-handed pitcher, 2nd baseman and shortstop, Will has also excelled in wooden bat leagues and for Team VA Mizuno. Honors in baseball range from being named to the 2021 Northwestern District and Area Baseball Teams to pitching a no-hitter in May 2021.
Honors in basketball include being team captain and a multi position player, being named All Region Basketball 21-22 Honorable Mention and receiving the 2022 Wildcat Co-MVP & Sportsmanship Award. During the awards banquet, his coach shared that Will is “a great student athlete and a great human being overall –he did his best and put the team on his back sometimes with a great attitude.”
Will has a 3.26 GPA and has been offered significant academic scholarships at Bridgewater, Eastern Mennonite, and Hood College. Will is uncommitted and is hoping to have a phenomenal spring baseball season which will lead to his being awarded a pitching position in the fall at a college within three hours of Front Royal. In the off-season, Will is an avid fisherman and especially enjoys trout fishing in Montana on the banks of the Missouri River.
Olivia Weinel, Shenandoah University
A Mount Airy, Maryland native, Olivia Weinel is a triple major, studying Criminal Justice, Psychology, and Spanish. The Shenandoah University senior is a 2022 Rotary Club/Jostens Award Finalist. Serving as a co-captain the past two years, Olivia has notched 1733 Minutes in 91 games with 878 points, 45 steals, 34 blocks, 86 assists and 328 rebounds. In her final year for the Hornets, Weinel was named ODAC All-Tournament, First Team All-ODAC, and Second Team All-Region. Off the court, she is a member of Psi Chi Psychology Honors society and Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and is the President of both the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Sigma Delta Pi Spanish Honor Society. The forward was named the 2021 ODAC/ Virginia Farm Bureau Scholar Athlete of the Year, Academic All-State and is a two-time Collegiate Sports Information Directors of America First Team Academic All-District honoree. Post-graduation, Olivia will be pursuing a Masters Degree in Forensic and Criminal Psychology.
Lisa Sturtevant, PhD, Chief Economist, Virginia REALTORS® Keynote Speaker at Valley Health Business at the Bloom
The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival is pleased to announce that Dr. Lisa Sturtevant, Chief Economist with Virginia REALTORS® will speak at the Valley Health Business at the Bloom Luncheon presented by Top of Virginia Regional Chamber at 11:00 am on Wednesday, April 27, 2022 at the Tolley Dental Zone in the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center on the campus of Shenandoah University.
Dr. Sturtevant has been involved in research on economic, demographic, and housing market issues and local housing solutions for more than 20 years. She currently serves as Chief Economist with Virginia REALTORS®, leading the association’s research on housing market and economic conditions throughout the Commonwealth. In her role, she prepares regular reports on the residential and commercial real estate markets in Virginia. She also conducts research and analysis to support the real estate industry in the Commonwealth.
Prior to coming on staff with Virginia REALTORS®, Lisa founded and served as president of LSA Planning, an Alexandria, Virginia-based consulting firm that partners with local communities to provide comprehensive analyses and strategic planning to promote and support housing and planning policy and development decisions.
Between 2013 and 2016, Lisa served as Vice President for Research for the National Housing Conference (NHC), a national non-profit organization focusing on promoting safe, decent, and affordable housing opportunities. Prior to NHC, Lisa served as Deputy Director of the Center for Regional Analysis and Associate Research Professor at the George Mason University School of Public Policy.
Dr. Sturtevant completed her PhD in public policy from George Mason University, a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Maryland, and a BS in mathematical economics from Wake Forest University. In her free time, she listens to economics podcasts, bakes cookies and cakes, and reads post-apocalyptic fiction. She lives in the Alexandria portion of Fairfax County, Virginia with her husband, two kids, two cats, and a gecko.
Tickets for Valley Health Business at the Bloom presented by Top of Virginia Regional Chamber are available at www.thebloom.com/events.
Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® President, Tommy Price, is happy to announce Miss Virginia 2021, Tatum Sheppard, will be making appearances at Festival activities and events.
Tatum currently resides in Roanoke, VA and obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Liberty University. She has performed with professional theatre companies in Virginia and Tennessee since graduating from college in 2020.
Tatum was crowned Miss Virginia in Roanoke on June 19, 2021. As part of her year of service, she makes personal appearances to promote local businesses and non-profits as well as keynote speaking and vocal performances. She also serves as the ABC Spokesperson by promoting healthy choices and substance abuse prevention to students in Virginia’s elementary schools as part of Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority’s Miss Virginia School Tour program.
Tatum is using her platform as Miss Virginia to promote her Social Impact Initiative: Mentoring Matters. As a former Big Sister and Mentor in the BBBS of Central Virginia program, she now partners with all six BBBS agencies across the Commonwealth through fundraising, events, and conferences.
D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is implementing their program with Miss Virginia, being a trained representative giving youth the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence. Her advocacy within these three diverse platforms offers schools the opportunity to target the programs that best meet the needs of their students.
Tickets for Festival events are available at www.thebloom.com/events.
Kara Britz SagAftra Vocal Contractor Blake Shelton Band Court Ambassador at the Coronation of Queen Shenandoah
Tommy Price, president of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® welcomes Kara Britz back home to Winchester to serve at the Court Ambassador at the Coronation of Queen Shenandoah XCV, Mia Dorsett. Kara will be performing at the Coronation and at the Malloy Toyota Country Music Dance.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Kara Lee Britz is the daughter of a musically-gifted mother and a music-loving father. She is the youngest of three musical children and spent time living in Germany before the family settled down In Winchester, Virginia. At age 6 Kara began classical piano lessons and sang along to both gospel and contemporary classics. In typical Kara fashion, she followed her own beat and started drum lessons in the 4th grade!
By age 11, Kara was playing drums and singing in a band called TCC, sponsored by Grove’s Harley-Davidson. In 2002, her band, Luckie & Almost Country, played the local bars, Harley-Davidson events, and Winchester’s Apple Blossom Festival, even though she was years away from a driver’s license or entry into the clubs where she played. Kara dedicated her middle school and high school nights and weekends to writing, recording, and cultivating her ability, including happy hours every Friday night at the former Sweet Caroline’s, accompanied by Phil Zuckerman and David Linaburg, throughout her junior and senior years of high school.
Growing up in Winchester afforded Kara the best opportunities to hone her craft with the support of a truly encouraging community. Singing in Elaine Aikens' school choirs from 6th grade at Daniel Morgan Middle School through her senior year before graduating from John Handley High in 2004, gave Kara one of her first “pinch me” moments…the unique opportunity to sing “I’m Sorry” as a special tribute to Brenda Lee at the Coronation in 2001 with Brenda in attendance as the Grand Marshal. This opened the door to strike up a coveted mentorship with Brenda Lee, all thanks to the Apple Blossom Festival. Mrs. Aikens and Kara’s late drum teacher, Steve Kastuck, always encouraged and supported Kara and gave her the confidence to continue to be bold in her efforts. Kara is so thankful for the amazing support the Winchester community continues to lend her to this day.
Two weeks after graduating high school, Kara celebrated her parents’ blessing to move to Los Angeles, and pursue her musical ambitions. She attended the Musician’s Institute studying voice and quickly found herself singing on major label records and alongside established artists. Booking her first international tour in 2009 with Japanese mega star, Eikichi Yazawa, Kara began to see how this could become a full-time career. After returning from Japan, Kara worked for Cher during her Las Vegas Caesar’s Palace Residency and then was hired to join Joe Cocker’s band for his Hard Knock’s World Tour. She credits Joe for taking her on her first trip around the globe, sharing special memories like performing at the Kremlin Palace, for the Prince of Monaco, the Princess of Morocco, and on hit European shows like Wetten Das, and ultimately singing a duet “You Loved Me Back,” on Joe Cocker’s last studio album ever released.
"My biggest fans are my family members. There are things you can only imagine yourself doing, things you wish you could try, and then there are the things that only become possible because of your support group. All of the little things that stop most people from realizing their dreams were eliminated by my family, and I was given the green light to pursue them. Little things like rent, food, transportation, clothes, and all of the other things that were required were very unselfishly absorbed by my family. My brother Corey (bass player for BUSH) was an established musician in LA when I got here, and his experience and support and his knowledge of music were incredibly invaluable to me. My sister, Kelley, who is literally my very best friend, was in LA as a full-time model and let me live with her and became my LA mother for several years."
Following the Joe Cocker tour, Kara was asked to join Paul Mirkovich’s (Cher, Janet Jackson, Pink) house band for NBC’s Hit Show, The Voice. Since Season 2 (through the recently wrapped Season 21), Kara has served as backing vocalist as well as vocal contractor for the show. In the last 10 years, Kara has had the privilege to hire over 75 Sag Aftra working LA vocalists to join her on stage backing up each season’s hopeful contestants as well as countless guest performers including some of Kara’s biggest inspirations: Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Gwen Stefani, Bob Segar, Michael Buble, Sheryl Crow, Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams, Adam Levine, CeeLo Green, Shakira, and her idol, Kelly Clarkson.
Working at The Voice opened up the opportunity to contract and/or sing for other television performances including Songland, The Masked Singer, The Grammys, The Oscars, and The Kelly Clarkson Show. The Voice is also where Kara met Blake Shelton. Blake hired Kara on the set of The Voice to become a full-time member of his band in 2015. With Blake, Kara has had the pleasure of performing on some of country’s biggest stages including The Grand Ole Opry, CMA Fest, Academy of Country Music Awards, The Houston Rodeo, and The Grammy’s. Blake also hired Kara to sing on his Grammy-nominated record, “God’s Country” as well as "Minimum Wage" and his “Blake Shelton Live” album released on Spotify. With Blake, Kara has had the honor of sharing the stage with top country artists, including Trace Adkins, Martina McBride, Tracy Byrd, The Bellamy Brothers, John Anderson, The Oak Ridge Boys, Luke Bryan, and Little Big Town.
These days you can find Kara anywhere Blake Shelton may be, and she might just pop up unexpectedly! Most recently, Kara was asked to backup Mickey Guyton to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. Kara continues to have “pinch me moments” as she enters her 18th year in Los Angeles as a full-time vocalist, and being asked to come home for the Apple Blossom Festival is a HUGE honor for her. Winchester’s community along with her family is whom Kara credits for molding her into the tenacious, kind-hearted, Christian woman she prides herself in being today.
Kara will be making appearances at many Festival events. The Coronation presented by Morgan Orthodontics will be Friday, April 29, at 1:30 p.m. at Handley High School and the Malloy Toyota Country Music Party is Saturday, April 30, at 8 p.m. at the Tolley Dental Zone located at the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletic and Events Center on the campus of Shenandoah University. Tickets for all Festival events are available at www.thebloom.com/events.
Former NASCAR Crew Chief and Analyst, Jeff Hammond, to Speak at the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast and Ride in the Glo Fiber Grand Feature Parade
Jeff Hammond’s love of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® is equal to that of longtime fans of Bloom Nation. Tommy Price, president of the Festival, is now welcoming Hammond’s return as a speaker at the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast. Jeff was the Firefighters’ Marshal in 2016. Jeff says, “Apple Blossom to the spring is what Macy’s Parade is to Christmas."
Jeff Hammond joined FOX Sports at the conclusion of the 2000 NASCAR season as an analyst for FOX NASCAR’s inaugural year of MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES coverage, moving over from his duties at Roush Fenway Racing as Kurt Busch’s crew chief.
From 2001 to 2013, Hammond served as an analyst for FOX NASCAR SUNDAY, the network’s prerace show at the time, alongside Chris Myers and Darrell Waltrip. In 2014, he covered stories on pit road, becoming the first former crew chief to serve in that capacity for network television’s NASCAR coverage.
In 2006, Hammond received his first Sports Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Sports Person--Studio Analyst. Hammond visited America’s troops serving overseas in Baghdad and Southwest Asia as part of the NFL on FOX’s Thanksgiving Day coverage in 2010 and in Korea as part of the NFL on FOX’s Thanksgiving Day coverage in 2011. His broadcasting resume includes work for FX, ESPN, Turner, and TNN. He has co-hosted the nationally syndicated NASCAR Country radio show.
In 2019, Hammond was awarded the prestigious Smokey Yunick Award. A year later, Jeff was awarded the Fireball Roberts Hard Charger Award. Hammond may be heard weekly on Performance Racing Network’s “Fast Talk” on Monday evenings and on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Late Shift” with Brad Gillie on Tuesday evenings.
In 1974, at the age of 17, the legendary crew chief began his NASCAR career as a tire changer for Walter Ballard. He transitioned to the role of jack man and served in this capacity for all three of Cale Yarborough’s Cup Series championships before winning the 1981 championship as Darrell Waltrip’s jack man. In 1982, Hammond took the helm as crew chief for the first time atop the pit box for Waltrip at the pinnacle of the future Hall of Famer’s career. Together, the pair visited Victory Lane an impressive 43 times, including Waltrip’s 1989 Daytona 500 victory. Hammond, known as a methodical strategist, was Waltrip’s pit boss for two of his three Cup Series championships (1982 and 1985), and won the 1989 GM Goodwrench Teamwork of Excellence Award. He retired with 508 races as a crew chief.
In 2021, Hammond returned to the Crew Chief ranks as only one of four Crew Chiefs chosen for the inaugural Superstar Racing Experience series. Hammond would get his first win in this new racing series with driver and eventual series champion, Tony Stewart.
Hammond co-owns and operates Pit Training and Instruction (PIT) facility, a 24,000 square foot facility in Mooresville, N.C. PIT also owns 5 Off 5 On Race Team Performance and specializes in training current NASCAR pit crew members, in addition to assisting aspiring pit crew members gain the skills and knowledge they need to break into and succeed in NASCAR. Through PIT, Hammond also conducts team-building exercises for corporations and serves as a motivational speaker for several Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Northrop Grumman, and O’Reilly Auto Parts.
Hammond attended East Carolina University, where he played football. He resides near Charlotte, N.C., with his family.
Jeff will be speaking at the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast at The Tolley Dental Zone in the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics and Events Center at Shenandoah University at 8 a.m. and riding in the Glo Fiber Grand Feature Parade, which steps off at 1:30 p.m. through the streets of historic Winchester.
Tickets for Festival events are available at www.thebloom.com/events.
Fred Smoot, Former Washington Redskin, “Mouth of the South” Sports Guest & Speaker at Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast
Yes, Winchester, there are still Redskins coming to the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®. Tommy Price, Festival President, is pleased to announce Fred Smoot will be added to the long list of former Redskins who have been part of our springtime celebration.
Fred played nine seasons in the NFL for the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings. He went to college at Mississippi State University where he played from 1997 to 2000. He started his junior and senior years, was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selection both years, and a consensus first-team All-American as a senior. He was also a finalist for the Conerly Trophy in 2000.
Smoot was drafted by Washington as the 14th pick in the second round (45th pick overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft and immediately formed an impressive duo with Champ Bailey. Following two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, he returned for a second stint with Washington and helped the team make the playoffs in 2007 and played with the team until 2010. He played in 129 games and had 21 interceptions, 450 tackles, and 5 forced fumbles.
The colorful Smoot, affectionately known as the “Mouth of the South,” was one of the more popular Washington players over the last 20 years. A funny quote attributed to him is, “2/3rds of the earth is covered by water, the other 1/3 is covered by Fred Smoot.” Now, Smoot does some work in the media; and, yes, he is a big Washington fan.
Smoot co-hosts a podcast with popular D.C. sports personality Chick Hernandez called “That’s Your Opinion” on the Bleav Podcast Network. It’s an entertaining show that will make you laugh while offering plenty of good football takes. In addition, he does radio and TV work for CSN, 106.7 The Fan, and NBC.
Smoot will be speaking at Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast at the Tolley Dental Zone inside the James R. Wilkins Jr. Athletic and Events Center on the campus of Shenandoah University on Saturday, April 30, at 8 a.m. and will ride in the Glo Fiber Grand Feature Parade, which kicks off at 1:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at www.thebloom.com/events.
Legendary basketball great of all times, Julius “Dr. J.” Erving, has been named Sports Marshal by Tommy Price, president of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®
Julius Winfield Erving, internationally recognized as Dr. J. was the dominant basketball player of his era, and a true innovator who revolutionized the way the game was played. Widely heralded as one of the all-time greats, he is often considered to have been the catalyst for the ABA-NBA merger in 1976. Erving’s strong leadership skills led his teams to championships in both leagues while his authentically thrilling high-flying style on the court captivated millions of fans from all over the world along the way. A gracious, dignified, and disciplined man, Erving was an ideal ambassador of the sport. He was the epitome of class and humility, and no one was more respected both on and off the court. This is the essence of who he is and what he still brings to any role he serves in.
Currently serving as founder/managing member of Erving Global Opportunity LLC, Julius brings to the table close to 40 years of experience as a Hall of Fame player, executive and entrepreneur. Erving Global Opportunity (EGO) is engaged in managing the ownership, business development, commercial utilization, merchandising, television, film, social media and philanthropic involvement of the Julius “Dr. J. Erving” brand. Dating back to 1979, Mr. Erving’s business affiliations have generated close to 2.5 billion dollars in revenues and brand value for his partners and other high-profile clientele. The overarching business model consists of leveraging the name, likeness, and intellectual property of Mr. Erving primarily through endorsements, personal appearances, strategic partnerships, equity participation, and worldwide licensing programs.
Erving holds a degree in business management from The University of Massachusetts, as well as honorary degrees from Temple University and Philadelphia University. He has served on various Boards of Directors including the following: Converse (6 years), Darden Group, (8 years) Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (3 years), Meridian Bank (5 years), Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Commission (3 years), Saks Fifth Avenue (8 years), The Sports Authority (8 years), The University of Massachusetts (2 years), Widener University (1 year) and Williams Communications (4 years).
Erving played professionally for 16 years, having scored 30,026 points in his combined ABA and NBA career, and left as the third highest scorer in professional basketball at the time behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain. Erving scored more than 22.0 points per game in his 11 NBA seasons with Philadelphia and 28.7 points per game in his 5 ABA seasons with Virginia and New York. In 1993, Erving was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and was also named to
the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-time team. In 1994, Erving was named by Sports Illustrated as one of the 40 most important athletes of all time. In 2017, GQ Magazine selected him as part of the 50 Greatest Living Athletes, a true testament to his staying power of remaining generationally relevant some 30 years after his playing career ended.
Erving will be speaking at the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast at the Tolley Dental Zone in the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletic and Events Center on Shenandoah University Campus, on Saturday, April 30 at 8 a.m. He will then ride in the Glo Fiber Grand Feature Parade, which begins at 1:30 p.m. Erving’s appearance is being sponsored by Omps Funeral Home and Cremation Center. Tickets to Festival events are available at www.thebloom.com/events.
The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the beauty of springtime and the apple blossoms in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley through events and initiatives that enhance community spirit and showcases our local agricultural heritage.