The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® is justifiably proud of its “famous family connections.” From the Ferrer and Boone Clan, to the multi-generational Ball/Arnaz/Luckinbill/Astin Connection, the Festival feels that repeat visits to the Apple Capital by some of America’s most famous families are validation that the Festival’s work is as important and as well done as it seems to us locally. Perhaps, no family has been as involved with the Festival over the past 50 years as the extended family of evangelist-extraordinaire, Billy Graham; and, it is with great pride that Festival President, Jim Douglas, announces that Gigi Graham, daughter of the famous preacher, will serve as the Featured Speaker at the 2016 Prayer Brunch, presented by Knouse Foods.
Virginia “Gigi” Graham is the eldest daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham. She is the proud mother of seven children ranging in age from 32 to 52; the grandmother of twenty; and, the great-grandmother of four, “so far.” Her experiences as daughter of the well-known evangelist, as a mother raising seven children, and as a world traveler, living abroad in both Europe and the Middle East, have given her rich resources on which to draw for her speaking and writing ministry. Gigi has had the privilege of sharing her story at conferences, in churches, and at Christian gatherings all over the United States, Canada and in Europe. Gigi believes in being open and transparent about her faith and life experiences: the “ups” and the inevitable “downs;” the valleys as well as the mountaintops. Although she comes from a well-known Christian family, she is the first to admit that she does not “have it all together;” but, like the rest of us, she too is a work in progress. She enjoys life at home in the mountains of North Carolina, vacation time in Central Florida, and is active in ministry at The Cove Christian Conference Center in Asheville. As an award-winning author, Gigi’s titles include “Currents of the Heart,” “For Women Only: Keeping Your Balance in a Changing World,” “Passing It On” and “A Quiet Knowing.”
The Graham Family history with the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® is long and rich. Family patriarch, Billy Graham, was a very popular Festival Grand Marshal in 1972. Ruth Graham is one of Billy Graham’s daughters; and, in 1993, Ruth’s daughter, Noelle Dienert, reined over the Festival as Queen Shenandoah. In 2001, Ruth Graham was the Featured Speaker at the second Festival Prayer Brunch presented by Knouse Foods. Franklin Graham is one of Billy Graham’s sons; and, in 2007, his daughter, Cissie Graham, reined over the Land of Pink and Green as Queen Shenandoah. That same year, Noelle Dienert returned to Winchester to speak at the Prayer Brunch; and, Ruth Graham returned to visit with her niece, Cissie Graham, the 2007 Queen. It is the Festival’s very pleasant understanding that Ruth Graham will be returning to Winchester this year to visit with her sister, Gigi Graham. The fact is, Bloom Nation, that they love it here as much as we do!
This year, the Official Festival Souvenir Store and Ticket Outlet is located at 212 East Cork Street, directly across from the Winchester Moose Lodge. It will open on Monday, April 4th, at 10:00am. The Prayer Brunch presented by Knouse Foods has sold out every year since its inception in 2000. There are usually some Prayer Brunch tickets available when the Souvenir Store and Ticket Outlet opens. However, in most years, the Featured Speaker is not announced until after the Souvenir Store opens. This year, the announcement is being made early; and the Featured Speaker is a dynamic individual from one of modern Christianity’s first families. Tickets are expected to sell rapidly this year; and, Festival Organizers suggest that interested parties not wait too long to purchase them. Tickets can also be purchased online at our Official Online Store. Gigi Graham’s appearance at the 2016 Prayer Brunch is made possible through the generous assistance of Chick fil A and First Bank; and, the Festival gratefully acknowledges that assistance!