Progress: Old tourism favorites get a fresh spin in 2015

As is the case with most years, a good chunk of the tourism focus for the northern Shenandoah Valley will be on established favorites.

Residents and recurring visitors can expect favorites such as the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival to once again floor their calendars and to-do lists.

At the same time, even the longest tenured events, attractions and festivals will be getting bit of a fresh spins in 2015.

Civil War Reconstruction Sesquicentennial

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War as well as the return of an old reenactment to the area.

Shenandoah County marketing and tourism director Jenna French said Fisher’s Hill Battlefield will holding a reenactment of a veteran’s reunion on Aug. 1. It is the first time the event will be held in 10 years.

The original reunion, French noted, was the largest veteran’s gathering that took place in the aftermath of the war.

“It wasn’t just Confederate soldiers here from Virginia, it was soldiers from both sides of the army that used to convene,” French said.

According to French, the event will have “a small play reenacting some of the reconciliations” as well as speakers.

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park is spearheading a nationwide effort called “Bells Across the Land.”

Essentially, participating churches, schools and organizations will ring their bells for four minutes on April, one minute for each year of the Civil War.

In addition, Cedar Creek will also be looking to finalize a list of events commemorating the sesquicentennial.

Shenandoah County Artisan Trail: April 25-26

In “technically the third year” of the artisan trail, French said that there have been 23 trail sites and 50 vendors confirmed for the event.

French added that the event has been re-branded this year to the original event title of “Gardens, Galleries and Grapes.”

“We felt like Gardens, Galleries and Grapes really summed up what this event is all about,” French said.

The 88th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival: April 24-May 3

The theme for the 88th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival is “Get Your Bloom On.” According to the event website, festival favorite country music act The Swon Brothers are returning to perform for the first time in four years.

The festival will also feature mainstay attractions such as Shenandoah’s Got Talent and the Miss Apple Blossom contest.

More information about lineups, vendors and events for the Apple Blossom Festival can be found at http://www.thebloom.com.

45th Annual Festival of Leaves: Oct. 10

This year, the annual Festival of Leaves in Front Royal will be celebrating its 45th year of operation. Alongside traditional festival proceedings, visitors can expects a few changes.

Patrick Farris, executive director of the Warren Heritage Society, said, “As a special, we are beginning a new athletic event … a half-marathon.”

The marathon, Farris said, will be a new event in addition to the festival’s long-running 5K event.

More information about the Festival of Leaves can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/jwc4clz.

Brews and Blues Festival: Sept. 26

More than 30 microbreweries will be on hand in Front Royal for this year’s festival.

In addition to an all-day lineup of musical acts, this year’s festival will feature various local food and commercial vendors as well as a cornhole tournament sponsored by the Linden Volunteer Fire Department.

More information about the festival can be found at: http://www.BrewsandBlues.com.

Wine and Craft Festival: May 16

On May 16, Front Royal will again house the Virginia Wine and Craft Festival in its historic downtown district. According to the festival’s website, there will be 20 wineries, more than 100 vendors and live entertainment.

More information about the festival can be found at: http://www.WineandCraftFestival.com.

Waggin’ for Dragons: Aug. 8

This will be the second year for the Waggin’ for Dragons boat racing event that started last year. The proceeds from the race will once again go toward benefiting the Warren County Humane Society.

Teams of 20 paddlers will race their dragon boats on the north fork of the Shenandoah River, next to the Front Royal Golf Course landing.

More information about the event can be found at: http://www.WagginForDragons.com.

Front Royal Farmer’s Market Christmas Festival and Bazaar: Dec. 5

The annual Front Royal Christmas Festival and Bazaar, hosted and organized by the Front Royal Farmers’ Market, will once again ring in the holiday season.

According to Tony Tringale, owner and operator of Tony T’s Apple Mart and Front Royal Farmer’s Market co-chair, residents can expect a very similar event to 2014’s festival.

“We will continue to do the playbill of free entertainment … because that was very popular,” Tringale said, adding that residents enjoyed the concept of different acts performing every hour.

The only problem with the festival, Tringale said, is that “it was so successful, we’re just limited with space.”

Updates regarding the Christmas Festival can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/p48e27q.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com