For many Festival “Old Timers,” one of the iconic memories of Festivals past was the startling juxtaposition of images created when one looked up from the craziness of the Old Town Midway and the Firefighters’ Parade Lineup Areas along Piccadilly and Cameron Streets to see the elegant couples in their gowns and tuxedos at the Queen’s Ball, dancing under the glittering chandeliers at the George Washington Hotel. The Queen’s Ball was actually created to be held in the ballroom at “the George;” and, for generations of Festival goers, it was the ultimate oasis of elegance in the swirling chaos of Festival activities in Old Town Winchester. But, as all locals know, “the George” suffered a long, unfortunate decline before its relatively recent rebirth; and, during those years, the Festival felt that it had to pull the Queen’s Ball out and move it to a new location; and, what an odyssey that has been! Over the years since the event left the George Washington Hotel, we believe it has been held in at least this many alternative locations: South End Fire Hall; Friendship Fire Hall; Harris Intertype; Apple Blossom Mall; the Festival’s Selma Tent; the Festival’s Rock Harbor Tent; Bowling Green Country Club; Shenandoah Country Club; and, the Brandt Student Center at Shenandoah University. Younger Event Organizers, in particular, have embraced the idea of returning the event to its original Old Town location.
“We want to be down in the middle of all the excitement,” is a common explanation for the move. The Festival will have the entire first floor for the event; but, attendance will still be somewhat limited. The entire Court assembles for this event; and, it is estimated that there will only be approximately 180 individual tickets for sale to the public. This move is not without expenses; and, a price increase is anticipated in the future; but, for 2016, Festival Organizers have decided to maintain the Traditional $50/ticket, $100/couple pricing as an “Introductory Offer” to the new event. Obviously, traffic around the Hotel will be challenging; but, Kent Street should be open to traffic; and, event attendees are encouraged to park in the George Washington Parking Garage next to the Hotel. The public will be kept abreast of the availability of the ticketing via the website, via e-blasts to our fan base, via Facebook, and at SABF Headquarters at 540-662-3863.