Year in Review: Lots of fun things to see, do in 2017

This past year was full of milestones for arts and entertainment in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

The year began with comic book fans descending on the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley for a traveling exhibition, “Superheroes and Superstars: The Works of Alex Ross.” Fans of all ages delighted in the colorful comic book cover art displayed on the vivid red and blue walls.

Keller Williams performed at Bright Box Theater in support of his new release, “Sync.” And foodies delighted in two opportunities to savor local cuisine during Winchester’s Restaurant Weeks in February and September.

Music legend Mikey Gilley, who performed at the Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation’s second annual “Roadhouse Classic,” kick-started a legendary list of musical performances throughout the valley.

The annual Shenandoah Valley Music Festival this year featured singer-song writer and 13-time Grammy award winner Emmylou Harris and folk singer Arlo Guthrie. Bluegrass fans enjoyed the sounds of Balsam Range, Band of Ruhks, and After Jack.

The Appaloosa Festival featuring Scythian, Eddie from Ohio and Humming House gathered music fans from around the country to Skyline Ranch Resort in Front Royal for a three-day weekend.

The Shenandoah County Fair hosted County Music Association  Female Vocalist of the Year Martina McBride as its headliner for the fair’s 100th year celebration. Other performers included William Michael Morgan and High Valley, and Grammy award-winner Dwight Yoakum.

Country music star Jana Kramer headlined the 63rd Clarke County Fair in August.

North Carolina band “The Embers” featuring Craig Woodlard welcomed the holiday season to Front Royal by helping the Front Royal Rotary Club and Social Services start their “Coats for Kids” campaign.

The Schultz Theatre in New Market moved to Broadway in Rockingham County to lessen the financial and production burdens on its staff and volunteers.

Award-winning playwright Michael Walker visited the Winchester Little Theatre for its opening show of “Absolutely Dead.” Shenandoah University’s Summer Music Theatre had a busy season with shows throughout the summer that included “Oklahoma!” Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and “Hairspray.”

Local theater productions throughout the year included “Jane Eyre,” “Glory Bea! A Shenandoah Christmas Story” and “The Mousetrap.”

Winchester celebrated its 90th Apple Blossom Festival with XC Queen Kiara Anastasia Laurenzano. Bloomers celebrated with wine festivals, Pumps and Pearls and a 10k race. Actor Jim Belushi served as the festival’s grand marshal of the Grand Feature Parade. NASCAR Winston Cup Series Champion Robert Allen Labonte was the marshal for the Firefighter’s Parade and Former Pittsburgh Steelers all-pro wide receiver Hines Ward served as the sports marshal.

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the Shenandoah County Fair where fairgoers enjoyed carnival rides, fried treats and free horse racing. Opening night featured Virginia’s Largest Pig Scramble with 100 pigs. A variety of motorsports took place throughout the week including Young Farmer’s Tractor Pull and Modified Tractor Pull, Demolition Derby and Pick-up Truck Drag Races.

The second season of pari-mutuel harness racing returned to Shenandoah Downs with 15 races.  Shenandoah Downs also hosted various themed festivals including  the Wine & Trotter Festival and Hops ‘n Hooves. Fixed Income cemented her status as “Horse of the Meet’ by obtaining a fourth straight win.

Edinburg residents participated in the 37th Ole Time Festival with cars, arts & crafts and parades, and Preston Smith of the Washington Redskins served as Middletown’s grand marshal during town’s Fourth of July parade.

Belle Grove hosted the National Sheep Dog finals. Over 200 competitors from across the United States and Canada earned the right to step on the finals field through their success at local sheepdog trails throughout the year. This was the fourth time Belle Grove hosted this event.

Cooler weather brought festivals, live entertainment and spooktacular events including Taste of the Shenandoah, Strasburgs first Harry Potter Festival and Front Royal’s Festival of Leaves.

Towns and counties across the valley welcomed holiday festivities with tree lightings, parades and of course, the jolly elf himself, Santa. Front Royal celebrated its annual holiday parade and tree lighting with Mayor Hollis Tharp while Woodstock and Strasburg hosted all-day events for families.

On a snowy Saturday Shenandoah County welcomed the return of its Holiday Homes Tour after a six-year absence. Nine homes and historic buildings in town were festively decorated for the tour.

Strasburg residents also opened their historic homes to house tour enthusiasts, showcasing six decorated homes throughout town.

Children of all ages welcomed the sight of their favorite holiday tradition as Santa traveled to local parades in Mount Jackson, Strasburg and Middletown.