Seventeen-year-old Isabella Louise "Bella" Astin will be queen of this spring's 96th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.
Bella's selection as queen-designate, which was announced Wednesday afternoon at the offices of Realty One Group Old Towne at 1000 Valley Ave., gives the Astin family a festival three-peat. The other two daughters of actor Sean Astin and producer Christine Astin have already reigned — Alexandra "Ali" Astin in 2014 and Elizabeth Astin in 2018.
Festival President Sharen Gromling said the entire Astin family will be flying in from California to watch Bella be crowned as Queen Shenandoah XCVI during a coronation ceremony on May 5 at Handley High School.
Brad Veach, the festival's executive director, said officials have not yet reached out to Bella's famous grandfather, John Astin, to see if he'll be attending. John Astin, 92, lives in Baltimore and is best known for playing Gomez Addams on the iconic 1960s TV show "The Addams Family." His last visit to Winchester was for Ali Astin's coronation nine years ago.
Gromling noted that Sean and Christine Astin and their daughters have been beloved by festival attendees for nearly 20 years. Before his daughters became queens, Sean Astin served alongside actress Loni Anderson as co-grand marshals of the festival in 2004, shortly after Astin had wrapped up filming the third and final "The Lord of the Rings" movies.
"This began a longterm relationship with our festival," Gromling said.
When the Astins came to Winchester in 2018, Sean Astin noted he had a third daughter who had not yet been crowned.
"They wouldn't have to ask twice," he said at the time about the prospect of Bella becoming queen.
"Honestly, that would be a dream come true for me," Bella told The Winchester Star in 2018, when she was 12. "I hope I can come back here."
Gromling said Bella is a senior at Oaks Christian High School and an activist for animal rights and the environment. She hopes to pursue a career behind the camera with documentaries that focus on animal needs.
"Her interests include acting, photography and film," Gromling said. "And she is a FemSTEM student, which raises women's voices in science, technology, engineering and math. She volunteers at her local animal shelter and often photographs the puppies looking for their fur-ever homes."
The queen-designate's participation in this spring's festival will begin on May 4 with the Village at Orchard Ridge Queen's Dinner, Gromling said. She'll also participate in several festival events on May 5 prior to her coronation that afternoon. Additionally, Bella will ride in the Hang 10 Car Wash Firefighters Parade and attend the Realty One Group Old Towne Queen's Ball on the evening of May 5, then sit on the throne of the queen's float during the Glo Fiber Grand Feature Parade on May 6.
"The entire Astin family is eager to return to Winchester, where they will join us as we live fully, love deeply and bloom once more," Gromling said, a reference to the theme of this year's festival, "Live, Love, Bloom."
The 96th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival will be held April 28-May 7 in and around Winchester. For information, tickets and a schedule of events, visit thebloom.com.
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