Apple Blossom special guests share their experiences

From left, Miss Apple Blossom Outstanding Teen Trilby Brown, Miss Apple Blossom 2016 Cameron Smith and Miss Virginia 2015 Savannah Lane talk about their Apple Blossom experiences. Rich Cooley/Daily

WINCHESTER – After years of attending the Apple Blossom Festival and Ladies’ Horticultural Luncheon, nursing educator and researcher Dr. Pam Webber has seen this year’s Bloom from a different perspective as the luncheon’s guest speaker.

Webber was the primary investigator in the STEWii Study on the factors causing chronic disease in teenagers, which published its results in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. She also recently ventured into fiction writing with her new novel, “The Wiregrass,” which came out in August.

“I’ve been extremely blessed in how well it has done and how well it was received,” she said.

She said the book focuses in part on the lasting effects of childhood trauma, one of many areas of recent emerging discoveries and attention in women’s health.

“Since the book was published, I’ve had three very special women contact me and share with me the fact that, as children, they were abused,” she said. “They had never told anyone, they had borne this pain in silence for a lifetime. They had read the book and somehow it resonated with them, and they wanted me to know.

Ahna Cameron

“I told women this morning, that if ‘The Wiregrass’ was the vehicle for them feeling that they could have a voice, then it was well worth the time and effort that it took me.”

She said that many nurses and other health workers approached her at the luncheon to applaud her focus and attention on women’s health in her discussion.

“That was particularly gratifying to me because I knew many of these women, and they’re consummate professionals,” she said. “To have them say that it was spot on was very important to me.”

Pageant winners

Miss Virginia Savannah Lane said she’s received a thorough introduction to Winchester through visiting Bloom events, accompanied in her title’s duties by Miss Apple Blossom Cameron Smith and Miss Apple Blossom Outstanding Teen Trilby Brown. Lane said she had just visited the Dogwood Festival in Charlottesville, where she calls home.

Pam Webber

“To be able to meet the people for the first time, there’s such a feeling of camaraderie and tradition that it makes you feel really proud to be part of it,” she said.

Coming from Bristol, Cameron said she’s also gotten to know Winchester through her whirlwind festival tour. She presented flowers to Queen Shenandoah as the blossom messenger in the coronation ceremony, while Lane bowed to the Queen as a visitor to her court.

“To see the whole thing unfold and to see how the community loves the coronation … I thought that was a really neat experience,” Cameron said.

With the Miss Virginia pageant soon on the horizon, Lane said it’s been nice to get to know some competitors better.

“It’s exciting to kind of see them in their element and feel assured that if one of them took the title, it’d be in good hands,” she said.

Queen Shenandoah

Ahna Cameron, Queen Shenandoah LXXXXIX and the daughter of actors Kirk Cameron and Chelsea Noble, said she’s had fun connecting with her four maids as they’ve been touring festival events.

“I’ve had so much fun meeting them and we’ve already made a group chat,” she said. “They’ve been so sweet, and following in that tradition of four maids with the families involved; that’s so great.”

She said the pageantry of her coronation was fun and unexpected, and she was impressed by the Royal Command Performance by the Handley Singers.

“I was very proud of that guy who stepped up and sang a song to me and danced with me,” she said. “That was pretty brave of him, I know my brothers wouldn’t have done that.”

She said one moment that has stuck with her at the festival so far was her escort to the Prayer Brunch accompanied by Marines.

“It was great walking down with Marines … because my grandfather passed away recently,” she said. “I’m not sure what position he was, but I remember it brought tears to my grandmother’s eyes … it touched our family’s heart, with that.”

Ahna also said she’s excited for her father to join in on the festivities at the Grand Feature Parade.

“He’s going to be so surprised at how amazing this town is,” she said.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com