In an incredible display of enthusiasm, hard work and public unity, the people of Winchester did not officially adopt the Festival until April 22, 1924 and the first celebration was held on May 3! W.A. “Dad” Ryan, manager of the Winchester Gas Co., was elected the first Director General and coordinated those early efforts. At the end of the April 22 public meeting, a benediction was offered by Parson Robert B. Nelson in which he gave the Festival a motto: the bounties of Nature are the gift of God.
The original format was centered on two events that have endured the test of time and remain focal points of the Festival years later: the Coronation of Queen Shenandoah and the Grand Feature Parade.