As Festival Organizers announce the retirement of our great Festival Friend, Ken Mease, from his long-time job as emcee of the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast Presented by Grange Insurance, they would like to quote from a 2010 Press Release regarding Ken: “As much as it is about anything, the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® is about tradition; and, Ken Mease’s smooth, wry delivery, expertly steering the Festival Sports Breakfast through its crowded agenda, is a tradition that has become both an expectation and a comfort. In January 1986, Ken joined WUSA-TV in Washington, DC as a sportscaster. His remarkable 17-year run at WUSA-TV is the crowning achievement of his career. Ken is now working with the Worthington Manor Golf Club; and, has recently spent his spare time free-lancing nationally with the CBS/Westwood One Radio Networks. Locally, he has appeared with Charles Mann as co-host of the Washington Redskins Post-Game Show on WJFK and the Redskins Radio Network; and, in 2010, he is serving as the public address announcer and TV play-by-play voice of the Washington Freedom of the new Women’s Professional Soccer [WPS] team. Of his annual trip to The Valley for the Festival, Ken gave us these words: ‘The bottom line is: the Festival is a unique community experience that I love being part of. To mingle with the celebrities, sport and otherwise, is a rush; and, to bring off the Sports Breakfast to the delight of the assembled multitude is a challenge I relish. The town has always welcomed me enthusiastically. The heart-warming response makes me feel a part of it, and is an affirmation that my work on the air reached a few folks and is remembered fondly even today.’”
Not only did Ken handle his job as emcee of the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast with style and panache; he took no compensation for it; he supported the Festival in every way that he could; and, he helped the Festival’s Celebrity Committee on numerous occasions to secure talent for his beloved Sports Breakfast. For all of these reasons and more, the Festival honors Ken Mease as our “Welcome Home” Guest of Honor in the 2018 Grand Feature Parade; and, we declare that he will be our Emcee Emeritus as long as there is a Festival!
Taking over for Ken Mease is local radio talent and much-sought-after Master of Ceremonies, the very smooth-voiced, Mike O’Dell. Mike started his radio career in his hometown of Beckley, West Virginia, in 1980. He has broadcast high school football, basketball and baseball games; and, has shown his versatility by also broadcasting auto races and golf matches. He is well-known in The Valley as the voice of Shenandoah University basketball since 1988. He is the Vice-President of Royal Broadcasting, Inc., which is home to The River 95.3 and SportsRadio 1450/WFTR. He and his wife, Kathleen, have been married for twenty-five years.
The Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast Presented by Grange Insurance will be held at the Winchester Moose Lodge on East Cork Street at 8:00am on Saturday morning, May 5th, 2018. As this information is released, the Festival’s announced Guests are Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion Speed Skater, Dan Jansen; and, iconic Professional Wrestling Entertainer, Ted DiBiase. More Sports Breakfast Guests will be announced soon including the 2018 Sports Marshal, and the 2018 Sports Breakfast Student Honorees which have just been chosen. A word to the wise: The event has already sold over three-quarters of its tickets without a Sports Marshal announcement. Please don’t wait too long to buy. The Festival is deeply grateful to its many Sponsors for their invaluable support in creating our Bloom. Our Sports Celebrity Sponsors are: Rubbermaid Commercial Products, Dunkin’ Donuts, Compass West, Winchester Printers, Costco, Signet Marketing and McDonalds!