The Vinton Band Boosters saw the need for new uniforms for the Williams Byrd High School band so, to finance the project, the band boosters sold small dogwood trees. The idea "caught on" and fun-loving Vintonites parlayed the dogwood sale into a community project that culminated into a festival.
The first Queen was Janet Bowman of Jefferson High School and the first Princess from William Byrd was Miss Shelvy Plunkett. The year was 1956. The following year, Vinton Town Council and the town citizens decided to make it an annual event. Invitations were sent to out-of-town bands, while businesses and organizations around Vinton began making plans for floats they would enter in the parade. A cloak of secrecy was thrown around the float building activities for there were those who were not above "lifting" some unique ideas from someone else.
By the time the Festival Fever struck again, Vinton was well established as "The Dogwood Capital of Virginia."