The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® has self-created several initiatives during the past few years. One such initiative has been to pay just homage to our roots, and to bring the local fruit growing industry and the local fruit processing industry back into much more obvious play. One piece of evidence of this is the Festival’s newest event: the Winchester Cider Works Tastings and Orchard Tours. Another is the Titling of the Festival’s Grand Marshal by local fruit processing giant, White House Foods®. In this same line, Festival President, Jim Douglas [from an “apple family” himself], is very proud to announce that local fruit grower, Cordell Watt, has been named the 2015 Ambassador to the Court of Queen Shenandoah LXXXVIII-designate, Natasha Bure.
Born and raised in Frederick County, Cordell Watt has consistently shown that being a third generation apple grower, an active member of his community, and a husband and father are far from his only accomplishments. After completing undergraduate studies at WVU in 1993, Cordell returned to Timber Ridge Fruit Farm, LLC; and, has expanded that operation ever since. On orchard property of just under 1,000 acres, Cordell grows over 20 varieties of apples; has his own packing facility; and, a cold storage that accommodates over 100,000 bushels of apples. As the 2013 US Apple Grower of the Year, Cordell recognized the fact that you must be willing to make changes, grow with the industry, maintain key employees and delegate responsibilities. While Cordell would rather be in the orchards, he finds himself in the office daily focusing on sales.
From an Internet article, the following award citation perfectly encapsulates Cordell’s agricultural philosophy: “There is no single method of measuring success in the apple industry. For some growers, success is defined by staking a claim to the hottest new varieties. For other growers, it’s all about constantly adding acres, or tipping the scales in tree density and production per acre. Cordell Watt, the owner of Timber Ridge Fruit Farm, LLC, in Gore, VA, takes a different approach. He doesn’t feel the need to force himself to try something new simply for the sake of doing so. Rather, he says that growers must recognize what works best for their own farm and their own site. “We have to plant what we know will work here,” he says. Cordell took over sole ownership of Timber Ridge Fruit Farm when his father, Tommy, passed away seven years ago. He has made every effort to carry on the farm’s legacy, first established by his grandfather, John. He has added acreage and planted new varieties, while renovating the farm’s packinghouse. Along the way, he has emerged as a rising leader by identifying the most efficient production and sales strategies that are suitable for his farm. It is for these reasons, among others, that Cordell Watt is the 2013 Apple Grower of the Year.”
As busy as he is, Cordell has also served as President of the Southern States Coop Board of Directors; sat on the Frederick County Planning Commission for 8 years; served as President of the Frederick County Fruit Growers Association; and, is currently serving on the Board of Directors of Green Inc. and the Virginia Horticulture Society. Cordell is a member of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and in addition to that, also serves the community by contributing to local non-profit organizations. He is proud to support the Frederick County 4-H and FFA at the County Fair by purchasing animals, and helps the Gore Fire Hall with their Annual Yard Party. He is joined in his work by his wife, Kim, and three children: Gia, Eli and Beau.
The Coronation of Queen Shenandoah LXXXVIII will take place at 1:30pm on Friday afternoon, May 1st, 2015, in the Patsy Cline Theatre at John Handley High School. Tickets are on sale now at the Official Festival Souvenir Store and Ticket Outlet at 302 North Cameron Street in Old Town Winchester.