Four young women from the Winchester area have been selected to serve as Maids in the Court of Queen Shenandoah XCVI during the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, April 28th through May 7th, 2023. The Maids are Mattie Gray Davis, Katherine Ann Martin, Emilie Elizabeth Pifer, and Margaret Anne Utz.
Mattie Davis is the daughter Mitzie and Bryce Davis of Winchester, VA. She is the granddaughter of Ellen and Rodney Cowley of Winchester, and the late Lela Davis and Boyd Davis. Mattie is a sophomore at The University of Georgia majoring in finance. She is a Presidential Scholar as well as an intern at Brown & McCook, a tax, accounting, and consulting firm. Mattie is a member of the Atlas Business Society, the Women in Finance organization, and the Delta Zeta sorority. She holds an executive board position as Recruitment Chair on the UGA Powerlifting club team. Mattie is a 2021 graduate of John Handley High School.
Katherine Martin is the daughter of Kimberly and Christopher Martin of Winchester. She is the granddaughter of Douglas Pollock of Gig Harbor, WA, Linda and William Martin of Winchester, and the late Carol Pollock. Katherine is a junior at Christopher Newport University majoring in political science. She is a member of Gamma Phi Beta where she serves as the administrative Vice President. Katherine is a 2020 graduate of John Handley High School. While in high school, she was a member of the National Honor Society and an intern for Delegate Christopher Collins.
Emilie Pifer is the daughter of Kim and William Pifer of Winchester. She is the granddaughter of Toni Sloan, Alexandra and William Armstrong, and Dorothy Pifer, all of Winchester, and the late Lamar Sloan and William Pifer. Emilie attends James Madison University majoring in health sciences, with a focus on pharmacy. She is a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity and on the Dean’s List. Emilie is a 2021 graduate of John Handley High School. She was a three-year varsity Volleyball letter recipient serving as captain her junior and senior years, a member of the National Honor Society, and a Handley Scholar. Emilie’s mother, Kim Pifer, was a Maid of Honor in the court of Queen Shenandoah LXII, Emily Sikking. Her maternal grandfather, William Armstrong, was a Festival President from 2007 and 2008.
Margaret Utz is the daughter of Anne Marie and Christopher Utz of Winchester. She is the granddaughter of Frances and James Lowe and Barbara Utz, all of Winchester, and the late Donald Utz. Margaret is a sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University majoring in business with a concentration in marketing. She is a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity. Margaret graduated from James Wood High School in 2021. She was a member of DECA, the Volleyball team and the Tennis team. Additionally, she is a volunteer with the SPCA and Froggy’s Closet.
Live. Love. Bloom.
Winchester, VA – The unveiling of the 96th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® annual theme and its unique artwork represents the official kickoff of the Festival every November. The theme announcement is the foundation for building momentum through the unveiling of newsworthy events and special guest announcements throughout the winter and early-spring months that lead up to the Festival which takes place next year on April 28 to May 7, 2023.
Sharen Gromling, Festival President states, “The theme’s inspirational message consists of three simple, short verbs that reflects the love our community has for this nearly 100-year tradition of celebrating the Bloom. It is an easy to remember, simplistic theme that is filled with energy and action - Live. Love. Bloom. In short, the theme inspires us to Live Fully, Love Deeply, and Bloom Forever.”
The 96th theme is once again designed by the Festival’s talented graphic designer, Erik Zimmerman, of White Spider, Inc. In describing the theme design and inspiration, Zimmerman states, “I wanted the artwork for the 96th theme to be as simple and as powerful as the title "Live. Love. Bloom". A clean and bold design, incorporating traditional colors along with a splash of something different to provide complimentary impact and Festival energy. Typically, the logo is a simpler version of the program cover, however this year the logo came first, and they mimic each other almost identically with a strong design. The program cover only shows a slight modification to the logo art, along with a halftone blossoms background for a little depth and flare.”
Event ticket sales will be announced at a later date. Tickets can be purchased in person at Festival Headquarters located at 135 North Cameron Street, by phone at (540) 662-3863 or through our online ticketing system. Make plans now to join us for the 96th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® on April 28 through May 7, 2023.
Kickoff Labor Day Weekend at the 2nd Annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® HoneyCar BBQ & Brews event at Frederick County Fairgrounds
Winchester, VA – Avoid the high gas prices and plan a staycation on Labor Day weekend. The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® and Concern Hotline are partnering once again for a fun-filled community celebration on Labor Day weekend.
Kickoff your three-day weekend at the 23rd Annual Concern Hotline Fish Fry on Friday evening, September 2, 2022 from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Frederick County Fairgrounds. Concern Hotline will be serving fried fish with sides. Junkfood and DJ Skyhigh will play live on stage. Visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/concern-hotlines-23rd-annual-friday-fish-fry-celebration-tickets-372272014617 to purchase tickets.
On Saturday and Sunday, enjoy local BBQ, craft beer, hard cider, live music, bourbon tasting, a Cornhole Tournament and other fun tailgate games at the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® HoneyCar BBQ & Brews. The event takes place from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm on Saturday, September 3, 2022 and Noon to 6:00 pm on Sunday, September 4, 2022 at the Frederick County Fairgrounds.
Enjoy a wide selection of BBQ from on-site vendors who will be serving up pulled pork, ribs, brisket, chicken and lots more with all the fixins'. Other food options will be available on-site. Stop by the local artisan and crafter booths to check out their selection of unique, custom and handmade goods.
Several local craft beer breweries, hard cider and bourbon distilleries will be on hand including:
Craft Beer Hard Cider Bourbon & Whiskey
Alesatian Brewing Co. Old Town Cidery Catoctin Creek Distilling
Escutcheon Brewing Co. Winchester Cider Works Evan Williams Bourbon
Devils Backbone Filibuster Distillery
Winchester Brew Works KO Distilling
Dividing Creek Beer Company
Broken Window Brewing Co.
Enjoy live local and regional entertainment both days on the MC Fence of Winchester Stage.
Saturday, September 3 Lineup Sunday, September 4 Lineup
11:00 am Downtown Garage 12:00 pm Shotgun Shiver
2:00 pm Rock Bottom Band 3:00 pm Brickyard Road - Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute Band
5:00 pm Raised on Analog
Pick a partner and compete in the Valley Cycle Center Cornhole Tournament for a chance to win great prizes! Three tournaments are scheduled to begin at 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm on Saturday and 2:00 pm on Sunday. The fee to compete in the tournaments are included in the BBQ & Brews ticket price. Register for the tournament when you order your event tickets at https://www.thebloom.com/2022-bbq--brews.html.
Labor Day weekend means the start of the college football season. Sit back and enjoy live games and cheer on your favorite team on several monitors throughout the venue. The Carmeuse Tailgate Area is a great spot to enjoy nostalgic and traditional tailgate games with your friends. Giant Jenga, Spike Ball, axe throwing, Kan Jam, giant Connect 4, basketball pop-a-shot, and oversized chess & checkers are just a few of the fun games in tailgating area.
Tickets are on sale at https://www.thebloom.com/2022-bbq--brews.html.
Single day ADVANCE VIP Tickets ($45.00) include:
9 sampling tickets for your choice of craft beer, hard cider or bourbon
Souvenir tasting glass
BBQ dinner plate
Entry into the Cornhole Tournament, tailgating games and live college football games
VIP Tickets will only be sold in advance and are not available at the gate.
Single Day General Admission Tickets ($25.00 in Advance/$30.00 at the Gate) include:
6 sampling tickets for your choice of craft beer, hard cider or bourbon
Souvenir tasting glass
Entry into the Cornhole Tournament, tailgating games and live college football games
Non-Drinking Tickets are $10. Children 12 and under are FREE.
The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® Board of Directors unanimously elected Sharen E. Gromling to serve as the organization’s President for a two-year term beginning on Monday, June 27, 2022. Gromling replaces now Past President, Thomas (Tommy) Price who served as President for the 94th and 95th Festivals.
Sharen has volunteered with the Festival for the past 42 years. She first started working with other City of Winchester officials hosting the Mayor’s Luncheon held immediately before the parade at the Jim Barnett Park War Memorial Building. Although this event is no longer held, for years it brought Mayors from all over the region to our Festival to ride in the parade. Prior to becoming a Festival Vice President she also co-chaired the Celebrity Luncheon which was held for dignitaries and celebrities prior to the Grand Feature Parade and was the Chair of the Queen’s Dinner, an event that offered attendees a look at the Queen Designate and her Court as they entered through a Sabre Arch and the traditional cutting of the Queen’s Apple Pie.
When asked why the Festival is important to her, Sharen stated “For me it’s about the people. I love seeing this community open its arms to people from all over who come together to celebrate the apple industry and the beautiful blossoms. The happy look on a child’s face, the laughter of friends and family coming together for a special moment in time, watching an army of dedicated, hard-working volunteers pull off this 40+ events, 10-day festival – that’s what makes the Festival special to me.”
Sharen and her husband Tom, a local dentist, will celebrate 44 years of marriage later this month. They have two children, 34 year-old Tim and 33 year-old Wendy. Tom and Sharen enjoy spending time with their family and friends, traveling especially to Disney, running races and riding their tandem bike. Sharen serves as the Executive Director of Our Health, Inc., a regional health and human services nonprofit. Prior to this she served as the Director of Administration and Human Resources for the City of Winchester for 30 years.
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.
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.