The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® has used the concept of Official Themes going back nearly to the first Festival in 1924; although, that use was generally sporadic in the 20th century. The Festival celebrated the 350th Anniversary of the settlement at Jamestown in 1957. After that, the Festival celebrated the entries of Alaska and then Hawaii into the Union. Big anniversaries tended to be “themed” over the years, like the Festival’s Golden 50th Anniversary in 1977. But, as stated, theming was sporadic until the late 1990s when Festival Organizers began to try to integrate images into a cohesive visual concept. In 1998, the Souvenir Program Book cover featured an orchard scene with stacks of bee-boxes, placed there to pollinate the trees. The 1998 Souvenir Pin was an image of a bee-box. In 1999, the Festival celebrated the area’s connections to George Washington with images on the cover of the Souvenir Program Book, the Souvenir Pin design, the 1999 Christmas ornament, and even carried this through with an appearance by a costumed actor that portrayed General Washington at that spring’s Festival. The following year celebrated the millennial year of 2000 in the same manner; and, in 2001, a Patsy Cline theme helped to create our first really famous catchphrase: “Crazy for the Bloom!” By the 21st century, an opportunity had been created, the momentum was there; and, now, the announcement of each Festival’s unique Theme, and the unveiling of the accompanying artwork, has become an event unto itself; and, it is seen as the “Official Kickoff” for each new Festival!
Recent Festival Themes have tried to stress the elegant, artistic, romantic, fanciful and bombastic sides of the Festival: elegance by 2011’s “Timeless…” with its symbolic gold pocket watch with no hands; artistry by 2012’s “Rhapsody in Bloom” with its grand piano on a Piccadilly Street cityscape; romance by 2013’s “Love to Bloom” and its pink and green heart; fanciful by 2014’s “The Land of Pink and Green” and its 1960s Beatle-esque landscape; and, bombastic by 2015’s “Get Your Bloom On!” with its attendant explosion of colors and blossoms. Festival Organizers were thinking that, this year, they might want to go back to the single-word, descriptive-adjective-type Theme, as embodied some years back with: “Timeless…” It was even thought that, perhaps, every few years, a similar single-word, descriptive-adjective-type Theme might be chosen, leading up to the fabulous and greatly anticipated 100th Anniversary Festival to be held in 2027. At that time, all of the adjectives could be strung together like charms on a bracelet to complete a picture of the Shenandoah Valley’s greatest and most enduring public event. With all of that in mind, the Theme for the 2016 Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® is “Unforgettable!” As most of us know, quite simply, no one has ever forgotten the Bloom!
The artwork accompanying the 2016 Theme is not at all sentimental. The background is dark and is apparently a nighttime sky with fireworks bursting in the middle. Scattered in an arc across the top and the bottom of the image are two great galleries of signature Festival images: celebrities, floats, events, candid crowd shots, bands, children playing, all scattered in broad array. The photos have been “washed” with a sepia tone to age them slightly, as if they were borrowed from a family album. Scattered across the photos are a great handful of apple blossoms, appearing to have been tossed there quite casually. In the center, between the two arcs of photos, there is a representation of the 2016 Festival Logo. It should be noted, that the Logo does not say “Unforgettable,” calmly and quietly, in an archaic font. It shouts, “Unforgettable!” in a happy, disjointed font followed by a big exclamation point with a blossom for a dot. We are sure that the Bloom Nation will study those images one by one as we did, look up, smile, and announce boldly along with us: “Unforgettable!”