By Josette Keelor
To kick off the first weekend of the 87th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, the United Bank Bloomin' Wine Fest will pour out two days of music, food, drinks and fun.
From 3 to 10 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, the Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall will host 18 wineries, 20 craft vendors, 12 food vendors and more, said event co-chair Karen Helm. Wine tastings will end 30 minutes before festival close each day but sales of unopened bottles and cases will continue.
Six craft beers on tap will be available for tasting and may be purchased by the glass, she said.
"We were selective in vendors that we invited to come," she said. "They are all complementary to what people would find at a wine festival."
Admission including wine and beer tastings is $20 for one day and $35 for both days, or $5 for nonalcoholic passes. Patrons consuming alcohol must be 21 or older. Children younger than 12 will be admitted free.
No outside food or drinks will be allowed inside the event area, and according to a news release from the Winchester Police Department, bag checks will be part of increased security measures at a number of events including the Bloomin' Wine Fest. The department recommends guests do not bring bags, backpacks, handbags or purses unless necessary. Diaper bags containing necessary items are allowed but will be subject to searches, the release said.
The following will not be allowed at Wine Fest: backpacks or bags at least 14-by-9 inches, outside alcohol, weapons, knives of any kind or other items that could be used or construed as a weapon, illegal drugs, bottles, cans, thermoses, coolers, animals except for service, aerosol or spray cans, food, snacks, beverages and noisemakers.
Maps, detours and parking information are available at the City of Winchester's website, www.winchesterva.gov.
The main entrance to the festival is off Cameron Street on Rouss Avenue next to Rouss City Hall, according to the festival website, thebloom.com/bloomin-wine-fest.
The festival, which began downtown in 2008, has grown from a smaller festival that used to be in the park at Abram's Delight for two or three years, Helm said. Once events became too big and numerous to take place on the final weekend of Apple Blossom, she said Wine Fest was moved to the previous weekend.
"What Apple Blossom did was they wanted to expand the festival to be over two weekends," she said. Doing so allows visitors to enjoy more of the festival for a longer length of time.
"It is the first official event of Apple Blossom," she said. "Sort of our tagline is 'uncork the bloom.'"
Contact the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival at 540-662-3863 or www.thebloom.com.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org