The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® has used the concept of Official Themes going back nearly to the first Festival; 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. 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, the 1999 Christmas ornament, and even carried this through with a Festival appearance by a costumed actor portraying the General. 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, at an annual event at Westminster-Canterbury, presented by Viola Engineering, is seen as the “Official Kickoff” for each new Festival!
The very successful “Unforgettable!” theme from 2016; and, the equally successful “Bloomtown: Bringing the ‘Wow’ For 90 Years!” theme from 2017, were actually rather complex concepts, with a great deal of accompanying philosophical thought; and, their artistic depictions were equally complex. From the beginning, this year’s Theme Committee wanted to create something very simple and very direct. Early on, the Committee decided that it wanted a very simple visual image: a single large apple blossom, in explosive colors, drawn or sketched freehand, not photographed or computer-generated. At the same time, the Committee was exploring phrases for the 2018 Theme that were evocative of local families welcoming their friends and loved ones back to the Bloom. For quite a while, the Committee felt that the two efforts were mutually exclusive; that there was no solid connection between the words and the visual image. But, in what can only be described as a “mass epiphany,” the entire Committee simultaneously decided this fall: “There is nothing wrong with combining that simple visual image with that simple phrase. It is perfect the way it is.” So, as Festival President, Mike Stanfield, unveils that image at this year’s Theme Announcement Party, the Bloom Nation will see a single, beautifully colorful apple blossom, with the simple caption: “Welcome Home!” Welcome home to springtime in the Shenandoah Valley. Welcome home to simpler times and simpler places. Welcome home to the Bloom!
The artwork accompanying the 2018 Theme was designed by Erik Zimmerman of White Spider, Inc. The Festival is fortunate to have been able to utilize Erik’s talents in this capacity for every Theme since 2004. As mentioned above, the image is of a single, large apple blossom, hand-sketched impressionistically, in vibrant pinks and greens, against a background of swirling, brightly colored lines, reminiscent of foliage or fireworks or the radiating exuberance that emanates from all things Bloom. Above the blossom, in an elegant party-invitation script, is the message of the Theme: “Welcome Home!” At the bottom, in a solidly classical Roman font [in case the uninitiated should ask the question: “Welcome home where?] is the simply stated answer: the “91st Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival®; April 27 – May 6, 2018; Winchester, Virginia.” The Festival sincerely hopes that everyone in the area will host friends and relatives in a Shenandoah Homecoming this spring; and, that we will see this iconic “Welcome Home!” blossom image in every corner of the Bloom Nation.