2019 Grand Marshalls Mark Farnham and David (Dianne) Wright

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To pay tribute to the Originator of the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival; Susan Wagner, the Apple Blossom Festival will be honoring as Grand Marshals her great grand children. Mark Farnham and David (Dianne) Wright will be traveling from New Zealand and will be staying in Wenatchee for 5 days participating in the All Service Club Luncheon, the Festival Ball and the Stemilt Grand Parade.

"I am sure that Grannie Sue is up there somewhere, proud to see that 100 years of her idea is now the grand festival that it is today”, says David Wright, “It is because of this, it will indeed be an honor and privilege to be representing our Great Grandmother on this auspicious occasion. It is with pride that I am looking forward to being a Grand Marshal.  It is also a chance to honor those who have kept her dreams and ideas alive for the past 100 years”.  

“For years I had heard stories from my grandmother and my mother who had traveled to Wenatchee for the Apple Blossom Festival with their mother and grandmother Susan Wagner”, says Mark Farnham “It has always been a fascination for me to go back one day and witness this great Festival, can’t wait to be part of this magical time.” 

“We are so excited that we connected with Susan Wagner’s family and to honor them and her is an added bonus,” says 2019 Director General Deanna Bollinger, “and a huge thank you to GEICO insurance for providing the monetary donation for the airfare to and from New Zealand”.

The Festival was the brainchild of Susan Wagner, wife of the district's first apple shipper and a native of New Zealand. She enjoyed the festivals of her childhood so much that she suggested beginning a similar festival in the Wenatchee Valley. The Ladies Musical Club produced the first festival in 1920, and the first Apple Blossom Festival Queen was Fern Prowell who reigned over the festivities, then called "Blossom Days." The one-day event in Memorial Park involved songs, speeches, Maypoles, and baseball.

The event drew large delegations of business and community leaders from throughout Seattle, Spokane, and North Central Washington, and its continuance was assured. In 1921 the Commercial Club, forerunner of the Chamber of Commerce, took over sponsorship of the celebration. parade. Our celebration carries the distinction of being the first Apple Blossom Festival in the country, and the oldest major festival in Washington. Only Sequim Irrigation Days in Western Washington is older than our Apple Blossom Festival.

2018 Grand Marshals Clyde and Ruth Ballard

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The Washington State Apple Blossom Festival is proud to announce Clyde and Ruth Ballard as the Grand Marshal’s for the 2018 Washington State Apple Blossom Festival. Festival Administrator Darci Christoferson and Pastor of Gospel Communities of Grace City Church Adam James, surprised the Ballard’s at Sunday’s 8am service.

Clyde came from humble beginnings as a migrant worker from Izzard County, Arkansas. As an only child, he leap-frogged across the country from Arkansas to Wenatchee, picking many different crops and trying to fit in as a lanky teenager. Ruth was born and raised in Wenatchee. She started working in the fruit industry around the age of 14. Word has it she was a very fast cherry packer! She had a faith based family and was very involved in her church growing up. Clyde was the drum major for the Wenatchee High School Golden Apple Marching Band in 1954.  In 1955, at age 18, Clyde married Ruth – the love of his life – one of the two most important events in his life. The other was giving his life to the Lord, a decision that changed his life forever. By the age of 2, he was climbing from bag boy to General Manager at Wenatchee’s Peter Rabbit grocery store chain and Ruth was working at Sears. After a brief move to Willows, California, they moved back to Wenatchee for good.

On August 1st, 1967, Clyde and Ruth founded Ballard Ambulance despite the fact that Clyde fainted at the sight of blood. The business was initially run out of their family home. From there, their entrepreneurial spirit took over. They grew the business to include many divisions that served the citizens of North Central Washington, such as one of the state’s largest medical supply stores and the first licensed air ambulance service in the state. Clyde was always at the forefront of innovation. He was one of the first EMTs, and, one of the first Paramedics in the state of Washington. He was a driving force in the Emergency Medical Services industry, helping write many of the laws that the EMS industry works under today. Clyde and Ruth were always looking for ways to give back to the community, sponsoring many events such as Ridge to River and some of the area’s original cycling events.

On February 5th, 1979, the building that housed Ballard Ambulance was gutted by an arson fire started by one of their employees. Through the support of some fellow business owners and friends the business was able to continue. And true to their faith in God, they forgave the employee and later hired him to do work on their home. In 1986, Clyde’s leadership role in the Legislature required even more time so he and Ruth sold the ambulance service to their three sons - Jeff, Shawn and Scott. Clyde never attended college but that didn’t stop him from making a difference in the Wenatchee Valley. He has been recognized both locally and nationally for his leadership roles in both his business and political careers.

2017 Grand Marshals - Sam & Vickie Mills

Sam and Vickie Mills are both homegrown Wenatchee residents, and this community runs deep within their blood. They have been married for over 40 years, and have both happily resided in this valley all their lives. This place is more than a home to them, it is the community they love and serve.

Sam, the oldest of five boys, grew up knowing that the family business was something he might like to do. He left Wenatchee for Seattle University, and graduated with a degree in General Studies in 1970. When he returned to the valley, he began to work for his father, Sam Mills Sr and his partner Jim Mills, second generation owners of the family business, Mills Bros. Sam officially took over in 1983, and ran Mills Bros until retiring and closing the store December of 2016. The business was owned and operated by the Mills family for 110 years.

Vickie, born Vickie Carol O’Dell is the middle of 3 children. She was raised in Wenatchee, and attended college at Washington State University after completing one year at Wenatchee Valley College. She graduated in December of 1973 with a degree in Education. When she returned to the valley, she began working for Central Washington Bank. After several years in the banking industry, Vickie began working at Mills Bros in 1988. She spent the rest of her career there until the close of the business last year.

Through the years, Sam and Vickie have both been involved with multiple boards and commissions, supported community organizations such as the Wenatchee Downtown Association and the Performing Arts Center, and sponsored countless community sports teams and fundraisers. They are involved members of this community and in their own words want it to remain as great a place for the future as it has been all their lives. This year they received the Heart of Downtown award from the Wenatchee Downtown Association, and in 2015 were presented the Legacy Award by the Chamber of Commerce.

Sam and Vickie were married in March of 1974 at Holy Apostles Church in East Wenatchee. They raised three children and now enjoy five grandchildren. In their retirement, they hope to travel and spend time with their grandchildren, who all live locally.

2016 Grand Marshal - Mark L. Donald

The Apple Blossom Festival is proud to announce the Grand Marshal for this year is Mark Donald, the most decorated Physician Assistant in the history of the United States Navy.
A former Navy SEAL and frontline medical provider Mark understands how to overcome adversity, and critical decision-making in the high stress environment. His book BATTLE READY – Memoir of a SEAL Warrior Medic, which is currently being developed by Joe Carnahan, writer and director of The Black List and State of Affairs, into a television series describing his life in special operations and the difficulties he faced with Post-Traumatic Stress. 
A loyal advocate for America’s service members Mark devotes a great deal of his time supporting the veteran community.  He’s served on the Board of Directors of the Legion of Valor, the Special Operations Medical Association and as the Commander of Military Order of Purple Heart for the Department of Virginia. Currently, Mark is President of JIC Global; a Virginia based consulting firm specializing in global health, workforce development and cross-cultural outreach strategies.
Mark holds a Bachelor of Science, and a Masters in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Nebraska.  His military decorations include the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with “V” for combat distinction, the Purple Heart, the Special Warfare (SEAL) breast insignia, the Honduran Medal of Merit and various other personal, unit and campaign awards.
Mark is married to Korrina R. Donald. They have two grown children, a son serving in the Marine Corps and a daughter competing in track at Texas A&M

Mark will be honored and speak at The All Service Club Luncheon which is open to the public.  Tickets are $25 for a single ticket and $225 for a Table of 10 at www.appleblossom.org, at the Festival Office (2 S. Chelan Ave.) or by calling 509.662.3616.

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