First Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, May 3, 1924

Winchester VA Fair 1924

Here the parade participants circle the racetrack as spectators view the parade from a grandstand. There was no caption on this photo, but I’m guessing it might possibly be the VMI Regimental Band. Photo by Lewis Reed

Winchester, with its long history in the apple-growing industry, chose to honor the beauty and bounty of the apple blossom, beginning in the year 1924. On Saturday, May 3, 1924, the first Festival was a one-day event. To kick off the celebration, the parade assembled at the old fairgrounds just off Fairmont Avenue and marched through the streets of Winchester to the Royal Pavilion on the grounds of Handley High School.

Beginning in 1925, the first of three pageants was professionally produced by the John B. Rogers Production Company and staged on a dais at the fairgrounds. In 1928 the outdoor pageants were moved to the steps and esplanade of Handley High School. The pageant earned a reputation as being one of the most beautiful outdoor extravaganzas in the nation. The festival was suspended during World War II, and resumed in 1946 with its first celebrity grand marshals, Bing Crosby in 1948 and Bob Hope in 1949.

The below previously unpublished photos (dated 1925) from Lewis Reed’s album are what appears to be some of the very first photos of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival held at the old fairgrounds in Winchester, Virginia. As always, click on an image to enlarge and scroll through gallery.


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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

3 responses to “First Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, May 3, 1924”

  1. Jonathan B. Richards II says :

    Good Morning, Jeanne Gartner,
    This is a nice series of images from the early days of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in 1924. Winchester , Virginia is also remembered as the place where Confederate General Stonewall Jackson headquartered and fought in the early days of our Civil War. A beautiful town. We as a nation had a whole lot of tough days ahead , with the Great Depression and WWII coming our way. Your blog continues to be outstanding. Keep sharing and thanks for what you are doing to keep history at the forefront of our awareness. Jonathan (Jack) Richards at Chesterfield, MO.

    • Reed Brothers says :

      Good morning Jonathan, Winchester is a very nice town. I attended college there (Shenandoah Conservatory) and have always enjoyed watching the Apple Blossom parade. The floats in the 1924 parade are a far cry from the elaborate floats we have today with high-tech computerized animation! Thanks again for stopping by and leaving your kind comments. ~Jeanne

  2. Jonathan B. Richards II says :

    Jeanne Gartner, Note that the B&O and Pennsylvania Railroad both had float vehicles in the Winchester Apple Blossom Festival parade. Great history and a time very different from today. Carry on.

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