By Joe Beck -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Winchester will reign as the entertainment capital of the Northern Shenandoah Valley this weekend as the marathon Apple Blossom Festival reaches its peak.
Friday's events kick off at 8 a.m. with concert and jazz ensemble band competitions at Shenandoah University, 1460 University Drive. The coronation of Queen Shenandoah is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Handley High School, 425 Handley Blvd.
The day concludes with the Jim Stutzman Chevrolet-Cadillac "Life's A Beach Party" from 8 p.m. until 12 a.m. at the Sprint Tent behind the Winchester Medical Center, 1840 Amherst St. Doors open at 7 p.m. and bands begin performing at 8 p.m.
Saturday's highlights include a 10k race that attracted 11,500 runners in 2011. The race begins at 8:30 a.m. at Handley High School and follows part of the Apple Blossom Parade route.
The parade begins at 1 p.m. in Old Town Winchester and continues until it reaches the Handley High School area. The parade includes a "Salute to the Troops" subdivision featuring a number of military and military-oriented units.
The day's festivities wrap up with Saturday Night America: Grove's Harley-Davidson Southern Rock Party at the Sprint Tent. Tickets have been reduced from $35 to $25 and are available at the festival's Official Souvenir & Ticket Outlet at 15 Weems Lane in Papermill Plaza.
Other entertainment includes an Oldies Rock and Roll Dance from 8 p.m. until midnight at the Moose Lodge, 215 E. Cork St. and the Apple Blossom Festival Square Dance scheduled from 7 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. at the Virginia Avenue Charlotte DeHart Elementary School, 550 Virginia Ave.
Sunday's events include the 23rd Annual Apple Blossom Bluegrass Festival from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Sprint Tent.
Also in Winchester, Shenandoah University's Black Student Union has scheduled a talent show at Armstrong Concert Hall. Tickets can be obtained by contacting LaChell Johnson at email@example.com. Prices are $3 for students and $5 for non-students.
There is much more going on elsewhere this weekend in the Valley. Shenandoah National Park is offering a number of hiking activities Saturday and Sunday on its Wildflower Weekend, an event held to encourage visitors to view some of the more than 850 flowering plant species found in the park.
Many flowers are blooming to attract pollinating insects before trees are fully leafed out and obscure them in shade. Details on specific wildflower weekend programs are available at www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/wildflower-weekend.htm.
The Ozark Jubilee will feature country music Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at The Yellow Barn at Shenandoah Caverns, 470 Caverns Road, Shenandoah Caverns. An all-star cast from Branson, Mo. will salute the music of legendary performers such as George Jones, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette and many more. Advance tickets of $22 each are available by calling 477-2432.
Front Royal has several events scheduled for the weekend. They include a downtown fashion show with clothing from various Main Street businesses on display at the Village Commons from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Fraternal Order of Police will be holding its spring carnival Friday from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. on the carnival lot at 8th Street and Crosby Street. Attractions include rides for adults and children, games and food from Five Star Amusements and the Front Royal Volunteer Fire Department.
Randolph Macon Academy, 200 Academy Drive, has scheduled an open house for prospective students from from 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. Sunday. Visitors are asked to arrive at 1:30 p.m.
The Friends of the Samuels Public Library, 330 Criser Road, have scheduled their semi-annual giant used book sale for Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.