For our Valley people’s information, this festival all started in the Town of Hantsport in one of the three apple warehouses owned by Laurie Sanford in 1927. Sanford got the idea to hold an apple blossom dance in his large warehouse on Station Street. He had his men cut down an apple tree in full bloom, cut the limbs off carefully, then drill the tree and re-assemble the branches.
Then he arranged for four young girls to compete for queen of the festival. These were called princesses; and at the dance, each man paid 25 cents to vote for their favourite princess. Only men could vote. These young ladies were: Miss Kay Anslow, of Windsor, Miss Katherine Yeaton, Mrs. Jean Tattery and Mrs. Jean Shankel, of Hantsport. Upon voting, Miss Anslow won for the first Queen in 1927, which started a great new adventure.
This festival grew very fast in popularity each year. In 1928, Miss Yeaton won the contest; then in 1929 the year of the great depression, it was cancelled. It began again in 1930 and Miss Tattery won. The festival was held in 1931 and 1932. By this time, the festival got so large that the town couldn’t contain it all.
Hantsport school principal, B.C. Silver, was appointed the supervisor of Valley schools in 1933 and moved to Kentville. He took along this idea of an Apple Blossom Festival, which the Town of Kentville gladly accepted. They had plenty of room, which quickly grew into what is now a very large part of the valley festivities and is getting more popular every year.
This same historic information was told by a former mayor of Hantsport, B.T. Smith, in the Kentville Ball Park in 1946 before a very large crowd. He was the chairman of the festival committee that year.
My parents, Clarence R. Riley (born in 1895) and Stella J. (Taylor) Riley (born in 1898) told me how they attended every festival; so this is first-hand information.
P.S. I have heard that there were many apple blossom festivals held in the United States prior to our Valley festival, but this is the first in our province.
Capt. Ray C. Riley (Ret’d)