William Byrd High School senior Abby Spotswood was chosen as the 2018 Dogwood Festival Queen. She is one of 10 seniors at WBHS nominated by members of the faculty— all exceptional students who demonstrate involvement in extracurricular activities and dedication to community service.
In addition to Spotswood, the nine other equally accomplished young women selected for this year’s Dogwood Court were Ozioma Anyanwu, Rashanda Stovall, Hannah Grace Sowers, Laura Schneider, Evamarie Pascoe, Carly Graybill, Brenna Donahue, Kayland Bond, and Payton Taylor.
Those nominated for the honor were interviewed by a panel of judges on the day of the Dogwood Festival Parade who then selected the Dogwood Queen. This year’s judges were Mary Hampton, Lorena Terry, and Alberto de Bobe.
Spotswood was crowned by this year’s Dogwood Parade Grand Marshal Robin Reed of WDBJ7 fame, with her bouquet presented by Vinton Mayor Brad Grose.
She is the daughter of Laurie and Shannon Spotswood. This is not her only noteworthy honor this year. In fact, she appeared twice in this year’s parade— once riding on the Dogwood Court float and once in a convertible as the 2017-2018 “Top Terrier” for William Byrd. WBHS Principal Tammy Newcomb said being named as Top Terrier is the highest single honor bestowed on a student at the school. The Top Terrier is nominated by students and then voted on by the faculty and staff who choose someone who serves as a “model of integrity, loyalty, and courage of character.”
Spotswood was also recently named DAR Good Citizen of the Year, again nominated by her fellow students. She has served as captain of the Varsity Sideline Cheerleading squad during her junior and senior years and played varsity softball. She has served as an officer in the SCA. She is a member of the Elephant Club, the Math Pound and Latin Club president, and a member of the Reindeer, Leo, and History Clubs, and Byrd Buddies. She participated in the RELATE and Freshmen Mentor programs at William Byrd.
As for community service, Spotswood said, “I enjoy volunteering for charity organizations and have been involved with Ronald McDonald House, Relay for Life, Feeding America, and various projects through my church.”
She plans to attend Virginia Tech in the fall to study life sciences.
Susan Teass has served as chair of the Dogwood Queen and Court Committee for 15 years and facilitates the surrounding events. She has been helping with the Vinton pageant since 1984 when the organization was participating in sending a contestant to the Miss Virginia Pageant. Brenda Dellis has served as co-chair for about 10 years.
Teass said that this year William Byrd graduate Vickie Damico, who was a Miss Virginia contestant “back in the day,” served as the Ambassador for Grand Marshal, ushering him to all of his events. Damico had worked at WDBJ7 for a time after graduating from Radford University.
The crowning of the queen was followed by a luncheon in the Vinton War Memorial Ball Room, hosted by Vinton Dogwood Festival Committee Chair Connie Houff with Reed as the special guest.
Mayor Grose welcomed him to Vinton and declared him an honorary citizen of the town. He also thanked the numerous volunteers from the community who “step up to make the Dogwood happen each year.”
Nita Echols was recognized by Joey Nicely, who serves on the Dogwood Festival Committee. She has worked as a Dogwood volunteer, board member, and committee member for 40 years.
He also presented Echols and each member of the Dogwood Court with the traditional Dogwood necklace. Thanks to Nicely, the Dogwood Queen and Court had a new float to ride on in the parade this year.
The luncheon was catered by Chef Claytor’s Dream on a Plate, owned by Julius Claytor.
The Vinton Dogwood Festival got under way on April 25 and closed on April 29 with nightly concerts and the Cole Carnival.
This year’s Vinton Dogwood Parade had 75 units ranging from the usual dignitaries— Vinton Town Council walking the route this year, Jason Peters from the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, Roanoke County Sheriff Eric Orange and deputies, the Dogwood Queen and Court, Elvis, Shrek, Butterflies on Stilts, antique cars, fire engines, various rescue organizations (mastiffs and horses), Girl Scout Troops, church groups, the Thrasher Preschool, bands (the William Byrd Marching Terriers, the Staunton River Golden Eagles, the William Byrd Alumni band, the Virginia Highlands Pipes and Drums, and Island Trio) to clowns and pirates from Kazim Temple.
The float winners for the 2018 Vinton Dogwood Festival were announced by Mary Beth Layman, town liaison to the Dogwood Festival. First place went to Noah Christian Academy, second place to the Roanoke Valley Horse Rescue, and third place to Girl Scout Troop 749.
“The Vinton Dogwood Festival Committee was delighted to have a wonderful variety of interesting, enthusiastic and colorful entries,” said Layman. “We appreciate the time and effort of each person participating in the parade”.
Sponsors for the 63rd Dogwood Festival include the Town of Vinton and BJ’s (Platinum Level); Cox Communications (Gold Level); Vinton Chiropractic (Dogwood Queen sponsor); Cundiff Drug Store and American Efficiency Inns.