The Scenic and Historic Shenandoah Valley of Virginia
 
Shenandoah County Fair bets on its future as the newest venue for Virginia parimutuel harness racing

 

The 2016 Shenandoah County Fair may be just one year away from it's centennial, but celebrating agriculture in the county tradition goes back even farther than that.

As early as 1887 the existing Shenandoah County Agricultural Society started an annual festival that included all kinds of horse racing. It took place on a dirt track laid out in the middle of some orchard fields on the west side of Woodstock, Va.

But it was not until 1916 that local organizers officially began the annual Shenandoah County Fair. Today the fair is the only remaining county fair in Virginia that still features harness racing. The horses continue to run on that original track location, which now overlooks Interstate 81.

Shenandoah County Fair harness racing still has a lot of local flavor. Folks return to the old grandstand year after year to view the daily races. Many are likely to either be related, know each other, or “know somebody who knows somebody.”

Whenever it comes to betting on these afternoon races, it's more like “honor between friends and family,” says Shenandoah County Fair Director Tom Eschelman. “There will be old-time sunflower seeds, or jelly beans, or peanuts up in the grandstand.”

But the harness racing game has suddenly gotten bigger for the fair host Shenandoah County Fair Association, after Eschelman led the development of a state-wide partnership with the Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) and Virginia Harness Horse Association (VHHA).

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In the Shenandoah Valley, we’re wild about the month of May
Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia

It’s pretty here at any time of the year, but oh, when the wildflowers of May are blooming... May is Wildflower Weekend month at Shenandoah National Park. The State Arboretum at Blandy Experimental Farm in Boyce, the Edith J. Carrier Arborteum on the campus of James Madison University and other park lands are busy with special outdoor programs. Or, hike a quiet trail in George Washington National Forest. Find your very own way back to nature in this beautiful region.

  Happening today

Glassblowing demonstrations in Staunton, Va.

Sunspots Studios, 202 S. Lewis St. Live demonstrations daily until 4 p.m. Gift shop open Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays: 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 540-885-0678 or visit www.sunspots.com


Memorial Day festival at Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Va.

Frontier Folkways Day. Traditional daily-life activities in the Old World and America. Living history, outdoor exhibits. Costumed interpretive staff. Food vendors available or bring a picnic lunch. Traditional storyteller, live folk music. Free admission. For more information, visit www.frontiermuseum.org.


Outdoor running event in Winchester, Va.

Loudoun St. Mall. 29th annual Loudoun St. Mile. Sponsored by Shenandoah Valley Runners. Prize money to top five overall finishers and top masters 40 plus, other prizes and awards to participants. Benefits Winchester Shelter for Abused Women, the Laurel Center. For more information, visit www.loudounSt.mile.com


Art Exhibition at James Madison University

Duke Hall Gallery. James Crable Photography, JMU emeritus art and art history professor in Harrisonburg. Runs May 2 through June 24. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free admission. For more information, visit www.jmu.edu


Planetarium program series at James Madison University

John C. Wells Planetarium. Planetary Visions, youth-oriented program every Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. From Earth to the Universe, 30-minute multimedia program about the universe, presented at 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.jmu.edu


Weekly classic film screening at Wayne Theatre in Waynesboro, Va.

521 West Main St. May 30, Yankee Doodle Dandy. Every Monday evening at 7 p.m. Program includes a brief introduction, short intermission, and optional film discussion afterwards led by The Classic Cinema Club. Admission: Pay-what-you-will admission preview season. No advance tickets required. For more information, call 540-943-9999 or visit www.waynetheatre.org


Farmers Market in Inwood, W.Va.

Taylors Farm Market, 178 Pilgrim St. Mondays through Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fresh produce and fruit, homemade goods, jams and local and state wines and spirits. For more information, visit www.taylors-farm-market.myshopify.com


Outdoor run in Winchester, Va.

Loudoun St. Mall, 135 N. Loudoun St. 29th annual fitness event. Fitness walk, open to men and women, kids mile, and a youth 100 yd. Tot Trot. Prizes awarded. For more information, visit loudounSt.mile.com


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About ShenandoahValley.com

Visiting this website, you've just landed in the scenic and historic Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and West Virginia, USA. ShenandoahValley.com is owned and operated by a small, independent business located right here in the region. We know the place. Our mission is to showcase its visual beauty, but we've also got some things to share about the people who live here, the culture and, of course, some really rich history and heritage.

Visit this place and it can seem like you are coming home. Our website background photos are provided by a select group of photographers from across the region who share their own love of the Valley through the lenses of their cameras.

While we provide a regional events listing that is always up to date, ShenandoahValley.com is not an encyclopedia about the Valley or a travel guide. In fact, we're not really selling anything on here. You can find location-specific tidbits about the Valley, particularly on our events page.

Each month we feature a Home page feature story and video that highlights something special about events, history and people.

Much of what is on here simply comes from our love for this world-reknown spot, the Daughter of the Stars, O Shenandoah, Shenandoah River... Shenandoah Valley.

If you like our website, consider making a donation ...we'd certainly tip a glass of Virginia-made beer or wine to your kindness! Either way, we're glad you stopped by. Come back to see us again!

Late afternoon in Mount Jackson, Virginia

Parts of the Valley Pike - U.S. Route 11 - here at Mount Jackson, Va. have changed relatively little from Civil War times

About William I. Spinrad, Jr - Land Matters Photography

William I. Spinrad, Jr. resides in Frederick County, Va. and is a former Park Ranger with the National Park Service, as well as a Land Resources Officer. He has a degree in Geology and working towards a Masters in Recreation Resources Management. He works part time as a Visitor Assistant at the Virginia State Arboretum/Blandy Experimental Farm in Boyce, Virginia, and believes in conserving land and natural and cultural resources. Photography is both a hobby and a professional pursuit. Mr. Spinrad owns and operates Land Matters Photography.

...photo by William I. Spinrad, Jr - Land Matters Photography