Yes, Festival Fans, the rumors are true! After an absence of over 30 years, the Official Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® Souvenir Store and Ticket Outlet will return to Old Town Winchester. This year the Festival’s Store will be located in the newly renovated “The Railroad District at 302 North Cameron Street.”
When considered across the long history of the Festival, “Souvenir Sales” by the Festival itself are a fairly recent development. There has always been a Souvenir Program Book; but, it wasn’t until the 50th Anniversary Festival in 1977 that a new, collectible, brass pin was developed each year. With the success of the pin, a small selection of other items such as an annual coffee mug and an annual t-shirt were added [who remembers the old “Johnny Appleseed” logo?]. Over the next few years, the idea of marketing the Festival itself, by the Festival itself, instead of simply leaving it to the street vendors, continued to gain traction. Small quantities of “Official” souvenirs were sold at the old Festival Headquarters on South Cameron Street; and, at Wilkins Shoe Center; and, at other locations in the Old Town area.
In 1982, as the trend toward large enclosed shopping malls swept the country, the brand-new Apple Blossom Mall opened in Winchester. When the pointedly-named “Apple Blossom” Mall offered the Festival a choice location for its 1983 Souvenir Store, the offer was accepted; and, with this move began a somewhat nomadic existence for the Festival Store. As the local economy grew, available space that could be donated to the Festival became more and more scarce; and, the Souvenir Store would move to a different empty store front within the Mall each year; and, eventually, out of the Mall, “bouncing” along the Featherbed Lane-Papermill Road-Weems Lane-Valley Avenue Corridor.
In 2014, though, the Festival Store returns to its roots on Cameron Street, very close to the current location of Apple Blossom Headquarters, the Festival Midway, the Parade Lineup Area and the George Washington Hotel. When asked for her reaction to the move, Old Town Development Board Director, Jennifer Bell, responded: “Old Town is thrilled to have the Apple Blossom Store in the downtown once again. Apple Blossom is an important Winchester Tradition which brings a boost to the local economy. Having the store downtown gives locals yet another reason to patronize the downtown and enjoy the newly renovated walking mall.”
Those who have visited the Store in recent years know that it presents an almost overwhelming display of pink-and-green “everything;” and, the same will be true in 2014. New products include: “Apple Blossom’s Got Talent” special souvenir t-shirts, a one-time offering produced for the debut of this exciting new Festival event. Store buyers have also purchased updated and modern designs of many products: new fits in women’s apparel; and, fresh and understated designs for men’s dress shirts and casual knit shirts. There will be new designs in children’s fashions including a carousel tee for toddler girls and a fire truck tee for toddler boys. Also new this year will be a special glass beer mug that features a special panel for autographs from your favorite Festival celebrities. When the glass is signed with a black sharpie, it remains permanent!
The Official Festival Souvenir Store and Ticket Outlet will open at its Old Town location on Monday morning, March 31st; and, regular store hours will be as follows: Monday through Saturday – 10:00am to 7:00pm; closed Sundays. The following special hours have also been announced: Friday, April 4 – 10:00am to 8:00pm; and, Sunday, April 27 – 12:00noon to 5:00pm. Please stay tuned for further announcements and updates!