Michael W. Smith with special guest, Cochren & Co. to perform live at the 96th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®
Winchester, VA – The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® is excited to announce that Grammy, Dove, and America Music Award winner Michael W. Smith will perform live on Sunday afternoon, May 7, 2023 with special guest Cochren & Co. The concert is proudly presented by Clean Water of Virginia and will take place on the Tolley Dental Zone stage at the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center on the campus of Shenandoah University. Enjoy an afternoon of uplifting music by one of the most decorated Contemporary Christian artists of all time!
Michael W. Smith has been releasing new music regularly and performing around the world to sold-out crowds for the last 35+ years. During his storied career, he's written and recorded over 36 No. 1 songs, been bestowed with three GRAMMY® Awards and 45 Dove Awards, one American Music Award, was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and has sold more than 15 million albums. Amassing an in-depth catalog of achievements, Smith was also honored with a star-studded tribute concert in Nashville, TN to celebrate his 35 No. 1s, by a myriad of legendary performers. In 2021, he released a re-envisioned live version of his #1 highest-selling album of all time, Worship, in honor of its 20th anniversary. His critically acclaimed studio album A Million Lights and live worship album Surrounded have together become his 30th and 31st Top 10 hits on Billboard's Top Christian Albums chart, more than any other solo artist in history. More than just an outstanding songwriter and performer, Smith has given back to the global community throughout his career. Smith has raised funds to battle AIDS in Africa, started Rocketown, a safe haven for young people in Tennessee to meet and find hope; and has helped more than 70,000 children through Compassion International. He has also written several bestselling books, including Old Enough To Know and Friends Are Friends Forever.
The Festival also welcomes, special guest, Cochren & Co. to the Tolley Dental Zone stage on Sunday afternoon, May 7. Michael Cochren is a singer/songwriter and worship leader born and raised in a small Indiana town. After graduating school, Cochren began playing music across the country with a band of friends under the name Cochren & Co. With hope filled lyrics and timeless melodies, Cochren & Co. blur the lines between American pop, soft rock, and soul/blues to create a sound all their own.
Dove Award Nominated Cochren & Co. have toured coast to coast accumulating a loyal following of new listeners wherever they go. Their debut full-length album Don’t Lose Hope was released on Gotee Records in 2021 and includes Billboard Top 10 Radio Hits Church (Take Me Back), One Day, and Who Can. The title-track Don’t Lose Hope was featured in a new episode of CBS’s MacGyver. On February 3, 2023 Cochren & Co. released their sophomore album Running Home. Michael Cochren recently
shared with fans, “I started the process for this album with the desire to expand our borders sonically and deepen the honesty of our lyrics. It was a true joy to create, and I pray it brings you joy, hope, and some windows down cranked up stereo FUN as you listen.” With a full touring schedule, including the TobyMac “Hits Deep Tour” and the release of their new album, Cochren & Co. is only getting started.
Tickets to Michael W. Smith with special guest, Cochren & Co., presented by Clean Water of Virginia, are available online at www.thebloom.com. Tickets range from $15.00 to $70.00. Doors to the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center open at Noon with Cochren & Co. taking the stage at 2:00 pm. Ticketholders are encouraged to arrive early to grab lunch from a broad selection of food vendors.
Winchester, VA – Recognizing an individual(s) as a Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® Honorary Grand Marshal is an infrequent part of our annual springtime ritual. Every so often though, members of our community are crowned as Festival royalty and honored for their extraordinary achievements, selfless acts, and good deeds. Such individuals help shape our community by sharing their time, talents and gifts every day – helping to make the place we call home very special.
On Valentine’s Day, it is only fitting that we honor and celebrate two individuals who came to our community in 1978 and chose Winchester to raise their family. Their love for each other, their family, friends, and this community is unwavering.
With more than 50 years of business experience as owners of three local corporations, this dynamic couple has built a legacy that will continue to positively impact our community for generations to come.
One member of this dynamic team is the Founder of First Night Winchester and a former member of the Winchester Medical Center Board. She served as President of the LFCC Board and as a member of their Foundation. Her passion and love for our youth is demonstrated by her service to countless youth organizations where she served as a board member, volunteer, fundraiser, and promoter. She has been recognized by the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber, named Businesswoman of the Year, Philanthropist of the Year, and received the Shenandoah University President’s Award for Community Service.
The other dynamic member of the team has been the voice of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® Grand Feature Parade for nearly 30 years. He is a graduate of the US Naval Academy and an active member of the Naval Academy Alumni Association. He is also a long-time member and Past President of the Winchester Rotary Club, Past President of the Wayside Theater, Member of both the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Screen Actors Guild where he has worked on and appeared in over 30 films. He is a member of the Actors Equity appearing in over 50 professional stage presentations, Director of three Winchester Little Theater productions, and past board member of the Chamber of Commerce. His awards are just as numerous as his partner including a two-time recipient of the Outstanding Business Award from the Chamber, Outstanding Citizen, Best Actor Award for World Music and Independent Film Festival, the Wayside Theater’s Leo Bernstein Award, and a four-time winner of the Ronald McDonald Community Service Award.
Our Honorary Grand Marshals have spent countless hours volunteering and supporting the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®. From sponsoring and hosting Olympians including Rowdy Gaines, Greg Louganis, Bonnie Blair, Dan Jansen and Buzz Schneider to supporting many events including Pages and Maids activities and meals, this couple has a sustained love for our Festival.
It is a pleasure to announce our 96th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival Honorary Grand Marshals - Kathy and Nick Nerangis. They truly have demonstrated our theme of Live fully, Love deeply, and Bloom forever.
When informed of Kathy and Nick’s selection as Honorary Grand Marshals, Craig B. Welburn, President of McDonald’s Capital Business Unit and local McDonald’s Owner Operator commented “On behalf of the McDonald’s Owner Operators in the Washington, D.C., Greater Baltimore and the Eastern Shore area, we want to congratulate Kathy and Nick Nerangis on the honor of becoming the Honorary Grand Marshals for the 2023 Apple Blossom Festival. We are all beyond proud of you both for the philanthropic endeavors you’ve led in the community. You have earned this noble position and we are grateful to call you part of our McDonald’s Family.”
Kathy and Nick will make appearances at numerous Festival events and ride through the GloFiber Grand Feature Parade on Saturday, May 6, 2023 at 1:30 pm.
For more information, visit www.thebloom.com.
Noah Thompson & HunterGirl to co-headline the Malloy Toyota Country Music Party, presented by Q102 and participate in the GloFiber Grand Feature Parade
The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® is excited to announce that 2022 American Idol winner, Noah Thompson, and 2022 American Idol runner-up, HunterGirl, will co-headline the Malloy Toyota Country Music Party, presented by Q102 with Special Guest Ronne Wolford & 50 West on Saturday evening, May 6, 2023 at the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center on the campus of Shenandoah University. Doors open at 7:00 pm, show starts at 8:00 pm. Artists will ride through the GloFiber Grand Feature Parade on Saturday afternoon, May 6, starting at 1:30 pm.
Over the years, the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival’s Country Music Party has welcomed many notable artists as they launched their careers in the country music industry. 2023 is no different. Noah Thompson and HunterGirl won over hearts and wowed viewers in 2022 as they competed on Season 20 of American Idol, and we look forward to both bringing their high-energy to the Country Music Party stage!
Tickets go on sale for the Malloy Toyota Country Music Party, presented by Q102 at 12:00 Noon today. General admission tickets are $35.00. VIP tickets are $50.00 and include premium parking, special VIP entrance, exclusive VIP bar and Apple Blossom swag. Tickets are available at www.thebloom.com.
Noah Thompson Bio
People pulled for Noah Thompson when the Kentucky-born construction worker couldn’t pull for himself.
Some dreams simply seem out of reach when the limitations of growing up in a small town and the responsibilities of a one-year-old named Walker, make superstardom seem distant and meant for someone else. But America believed wholeheartedly in what Thompson couldn’t imagine for himself.
2022 American Idol Season 20 winner embodies the spirit of Country music: overcoming adversity and the odds to achieve widespread acclaim and the hearts of millions. This is more than a CinderNoah story; this is the culmination of an “American (Idol) Dream.”
Before he was performing for 2.5 million television viewers, Thompson was singing for a ragtag crew of a half dozen construction workers framing houses near his hometown of Louisa, KY (population 2,852). They were laborers with checkered pasts and/or limited options, and Thompson was a daily distraction.
“Those boys would have me singing any song they could find on their phones,” said Thompson. “They would push me and push me all the time. It would drive me nuts, but it obviously led to a good outcome.”
Likeable, humble, funny and clearly talented, Thompson was one of their own. One of the guys on the crew, whom Thompson had only known a couple months, decided to do something about it and submitted him for the American Idol auditions in Austin, Texas.
“When he signed me up, it was a big ‘No,’ recalled Thompson, who had never been on a plane prior to the auditions. “I really didn’t want him to do it. I could never really picture myself doing something like that. Being in that environment, surrounded by famous people like Luke Bryan and all them, it didn’t seem realistic to me.
“Where we come from, it’s just such a small town, man. When you see someone make it out of here, it’s kind of like magic made that happened. It’s unrealistic in a way. It doesn’t seem like that can happen for you.”
During his winning season on American Idol judge Luke Bryan summed it up: “You are going to ‘Aw, shucks’ your way to the top.”
And then he did.
Releasing his debut song “One Day Tonight” during the show, the catchy, romantic track immediately shot to No. 1 on iTunes All Genres and Country charts and is still racking up an incredible number of on-demand streams, averaging nearly 1 million per week.
Now, Thompson is taking it all in and finding his footing as he prepares to release new music with 19 Recordings under an exclusive license to BBR Music Group. He’s writing songs and working with some of the most sought-after tunesmiths in Nashville, and he is working with notable producer Jimmy Robbins (Keith Urban, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Mickey Guyton).
“From the second you meet Noah, you’re rooting for him,” said Robbins, who has penned 10 No. 1 singles. “Not only is he incredibly talented, but he’s one of the most genuine people I’ve worked with. When he steps up to the mic in the studio, it feels like he’s been doing this for years. I can’t wait to see what’s next for him.”
Bolstered by the American Idol judges’ confidence in his talent and the nation’s overwhelming support, the early fan-favorite’s humble and kind demeanor instantly connected with fans, and when he put his rough-hewn Country vocals on Rihanna’s R&B smash hit “Stay” during the “showstopper round,” the rising star had his ultimate breakout moment.
The natural break in his vocals added a depth of emotion and an authentic ache to the song. “People love that song, and I’m happy people are still loving it,” Thompson said.
And they’re loving it so much so, he released his rendition of “Stay” on July 29, 2022 – the song that changed his trajectory on the show and proved why he deserved to be named the winner of this year’s American Idol.
A Tennessee native, singer/songwriter HunterGirl has been performing since she was three years old and writing songs since she was nine. In her early teens, she performed at venues across the United States, competed in singing competitions and won the 2014 Texaco Country Showdown. After graduating high school, she moved to Nashville and immediately started playing gigs at Nashville’s most famous venues including Tootsie’s, Rippy’s, Jason Aldean’s Bar, The Listening Room, and HonkyTonk Central, winning songwriting contests such as “Nash Next” and the prestigious “Nashville Songwriter Association International” in her spare time.
Due to having family members who served in the military, HunterGirl holds a deep admiration for our Country’s armed forces and tenaciously works with many veteran organizations, where she uses music therapy to transform veterans’ stories into songs. She’s shared the stage with Country superstars Old Dominion, Florida Georgia Line, Kane Brown, Alan Jackson, Trace Adkins, Charlie Daniels, Sara Evans and more.
Most recently, she competed on this year’s American Idol, where the “country singer with a bright future” (Hollywood Life) delivered standout performances that Taste of Country called “impressive,” “shining,” “chill-worthy,” and “glowing,” winning the hearts of millions across the country. Praised by Idol judge and Country superstar Luke Bryan as the “new age Miranda Lambert” and his “favorite female Country voice,” “HunterGirl has wowed the Country music community since she stepped foot onto the American Idol stage” (Billboard). “Despite missing out on the win, her crooning vocals and intimate original song, ‘Red Bird,’ has made her one to watch in the Country scene (American Songwriter). Skyrocketing to No. 1 on iTunes All-Genre and Country charts, “the budding Country star” (Taste of Country) performed her heartfelt and deeply personal original track “Red Bird” on Live with Kelly & Ryan and has appeared on Good Morning America. With distinctively and incomparably genuine vocals, unwavering drive, and a heart of gold, HunterGirl is on the fast track to be Country’s next big female artist.
Special Guest, Ronnie Wolford & 50 West Bio
Ronnie Wolford and 50 West have made a name for themselves throughout the Northern Shenandoah Valley region since forming in early 2022. With over 100 years of combined musical experience, Ronnie Wolford & 50 West’s collective talent is on full display every time the band takes the stage. The band’s diverse set list ranges from Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, and Johnny Cash, to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and more.
Members of the band have opened for Country Music legends including Craig Morgan, Ronnie Milsap, John Anderson, Charlie Daniels, and Confederate Railroad.
Ronnie Wolford- Front Man & Founding Member, Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Brent Wolford- Lead Guitar, Vocals & Second Generation of Wolford Music
Logan Garrett- Lead Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
Curt Creswell- Drums, Vocals
Rob (Robo) Wolf, Bass, Vocals
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.