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​The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® relies on thousands of volunteers, and each year these community members answer the call to support the festival in a variety of ways.  Volunteers from all backgrounds and varying interests come together to plan out and execute over 50 events in a 10-day period.  The festival serves as an annual fundraising opportunity for many local non-profits including youth organizations like scout groups, school bands and civic clubs, and church youth groups, just to name a few.  These groups raise money through the sale of parade seats, souvenir programs, and concessions along the parade route.  Other non-profits are assigned meaningful tasks in exchange for a contribution by assisting with event set up and tear down, parking, and other responsibilities.
Every year, challenges arise as the festival is being planned. Some challenges are small in nature while others are massive voids that require creative thinking and additional resources.  Our 97th festival was not immune to these challenges.  As festival leaders, public safety officials and private security firms worked together to finalize the emergency plan, a last-minute predicament was averted with the support of several local organizations and citizens who answered the call for help. 
Dr. Tracy Fitzsimmons and the Shenandoah University football program answered the call to fill a last-minute void with traffic management for the parades. “In a matter of 30-minutes, Tracy (Fitzsimmons), made several calls to her athletic teams to cover traffic control points along the parade route for Friday’s Hang 10 Car Wash Firefighters’ Parade and Saturday’s glofiber Grand Feature Parade,” stated Brad Veach, Executive Director of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®.  Under the direction and leadership of Coach Scott Yoder and his coaching staff, the Shenandoah University football team assembled their team, was briefed by public safety officials, and worked alongside Winchester Public Services, Emergency Management and the Police Department to ensure the parade perimeter was safe.  The SU student-athletes filled a total of 90 spots over two days: 50 traffic control spots on Friday and another 40 spots on Saturday.  In exchange for the tremendous support from Shenandoah University, the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® is contributing to the University’s football team to purchase new safety equipment for the program. “I have always been proud of our SU student athletes.  They stepped up and answered the call when the Winchester community needed them.  We are proud to be a part of the Apple Blossom weekend,” stated Scott Yoder, Head Football Coach at Shenandoah University.  “The festival is grateful for the strong partnership that we have with Shenandoah University, and this is just another example of how SU gives back to the community.  Tracy, her leadership team, and the SU students do amazing things all the time. I believe I can speak for our community when I say thank you to Shenandoah University for instilling a sense of community on campus and encouraging students to give back in meaningful ways,” stated Sharen Gromling, President of the festival.
Earlier in the day on Saturday, several residents and a team from the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association joined forces with Public Services, Emergency Management and the Police Department to provide traffic control for the Valley Health 10K race. A call for help was sent out less than 24 hours before the race start time and the residents and motorcycle club assembled nearly twice as many volunteers than were needed to cover each intersection along the race route. 
The Festival also recognizes and appreciates the tremendous amount of work that our city and county municipal employees put into making sure our events are successful and safe.  Without them, we would not have a festival. Oftentimes this means working overtime to help with trash collection, street sweeping, inspections, public safety, and other tasks.  When possible, the Festival attempts to offset overtime pay to minimize the impact on local tax dollars.
“These are just a few examples of how the Winchester-Frederick County community came together this year to ensure our hometown festival was safe and enjoyable for everyone.  It’s gratifying to know that we live in a community that cares for one another and are willing to step in when necessary to ensure our 97th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® was a success and participants were safe,” states Veach.
Volunteerism is the life blood of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® and recruitment is a year-round effort.  The Festival welcomes you to join our team. Visit to complete the volunteer inquiry form.
Photo Credit: Michael Brannon, Photography Chair, Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®

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