By Josette Keelor
Looking back at a year of entertainment around the valley brings to mind musical events, moments of artistic expression and theatrical excitement around a region that has much creativity worth celebrating.
The year 2012 is noteworthy for not only what the world brought to the valley, but also for what the valley inspired for the world.
Actor Mario Lopez comes to Winchester
Every year, the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival brings a week of hoopla to Winchester, attracting celebrities far and wide to apple country. This year, the Bloom attracted actor and entertainment news show host Mario Lopez.
In the weeks leading up to the festival, Lopez accepted a nomination as grand marshal of the Grand Feature Parade.
The former "Saved By the Bell" star had to fly all night to make it to Winchester in time for a late morning interview and planned to leave immediately after the parade to catch a flight to New York, but while he was in town, he enjoyed and appreciated his fans.
"I think it's important to do events like this to meet people and show them you appreciate that they're out here to support you," Lopez told the Daily in May. "And hopefully, they'll watch your programs and listen to your radio show and when you start to make those connections at the grassroots level, the word will spread and hopefully they will be a loyal viewer and listener later on."
Lopez said he was honored to be in Winchester and "I'm very happy to be invited to be parade grand marshal. I like history a lot, and I love the history that's involved with the parade and the community. To see how people rally around and get behind it, it's great. And I'm just looking forward to the experience ahead."
Redskins score points at area schools
Later in May, members of the Washington Redskins rode a bus to Winchester as part of its Thank You Tour.
Fans filled the home stands at the Handley Bowl for the team's 80th anniversary tour.
Larry Michael, "voice of the Redskins," introduced team Executive Vice President and General Manager Bruce Allen, former players Fred Dean, Dexter Manley and Mark Moseley, and current offensive linemen Kory Lichtensteiger and Will Montgomery. The tour moved on to Shenandoah County later in the weeks, stopping at the county fairgrounds and all three county high schools.
Valley gobbler earns presidential pardon
In November, a turkey in Rockingham County earned national notice when President Obama chose it to be honored in the annual turkey pardoning ceremony on Nov. 21.
A sendoff event was held West Rockingham Ruritan Park and the two Rockingham County turkeys (one was a backup) were escorted to a hotel n the Washington area prior to the pardoning. Both turkeys will live out their lives at George Washington's Mount Vernon estate.
Craig Miller, who raised the turkeys on his farm with wife Nancy, told the Daily, "It's a tradition that's gone on a long time. There was a lot of excitement here today."
Novelists write new story for region
National Novel Writing Month happens every November, but this year was the first to include a region specific to Winchester when the breakout group formed from the Shenandoah Valley region. But that was only the beginning.
Three municipal liaisons expected a spike in interest during novel writing month, since they now better can meet demand from four counties and local West Virginia. What they did not expect was for interest to inspire a writing club - the Shenandoah Valley Writers - after November.
LeAnn Rimes sings at Patsy Cline Theatre on Nov. 16
Perhaps most noteworthy in the past year was when Grammy-winning country singer LeAnn Rimes became the fourth in a line of legends -- Willie Nelson, Wynonna Judd and The Beach Boys -- to perform at the Patsy Cline Theatre at Handley High School.
In a phone interview with the Daily on Nov. 9, the singer talked of Cline: "I'm excited, you know. ... I think it's so fitting," Rimes said. "I've been compared to her ever since I was a little kid."
Thinking back on when she sang "Blue," Rimes said, "I've always kind of thought it fell into my hands in the perfect way."
Rimes said she was "so thankful for the 18 years I've had to lead up to this moment."
"The good, the bad, the ugly has made me who I am," she said. "That's all I can ask for."
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org