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

Monthly Book Club meeting at Blandy Experimental Farm in Boyce, Va.

Blandy Library. Fourth Thursday of the month, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. May 26: Buzz in the Meadow, by Dave Goulson. Participants should read book before then meeting. Free admission. For more information, visit blandy.virginia.edu.


Youth Fiddle Workshop at Barns of Rose Hill in Berryville, Va.

95 Chalmers Ct. Kids Fiddle Workshop with David Van Deventer. Every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Music theory, ear training. Sing and play in the old-time music tradition. For more information, visit www.barnsofrosehill.org.


Weekly open jam session Thursdays in Berryville, Va.

Fire House Gallery, 23 East Main St. Lunchbox Jam Session at 12 p.m. every Thursday. For more information, call  540-955-4001 or visit www.firehousegalleryva.com


Weekly old-time music jam at the Barns of Rose Hill in Berryville, Va.

95 Chalmers Ct. Every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Play old-time music, or just listen. Family friendly event. Barns bar open untill 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.barnsofrosehill.org.


Theater performance at Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.

10 S. Market St. Julius Caesar TalkBack discussion session follows performance. For more information, call 1-877-682-4236 or visit www.americanshakespearecenter.com.


Americana music concert at Barns of Rose Hill in Berryville, Va.

95 Chalmers Ct. The Honey Dewdrops, Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish perform on clawhammer banjo, mandolin and guitars. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets: General Admission, $15 in advance until 3 p.m. on the day of event. $20 at the door. Ages 12 years and admitted free when accompanied by an adult. For more information, call 540-955-2004 or visit www.barnsofrosehill.org


Historical Exhibition at the Old Courthouse in Woodstock, Va.

Historic Courthouse Visitor Center, 103 N. Main St. Mount Jackson Museum artifacts on display through June. For more information, call 540-459-1795 or visit www.shenandoahcountyhistoricalsociety.org.


Big Meadows Lodge program at Shenandoah National Park

Skyland Resort, on Skyline Drive at mile 41.7 and 42.5. The Sky IS Falling - Space Rocks and You - Learn about meteorites and see actual meteorites from Mars, Chelyabinsk, Russia, and the Moon. For more information, call 1-877-847-1919 or visit www.goshenandoah.com/activities-events.


Farmers Market in Falling Waters, W.Va.

Kitchens Orchard and Farm Market, 1025 Kitchen Orchard Rd. Spring hours: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fresh produce and fruit, homemade goods, jams and local and state wines and spirits. For more information, visit www.kitchensfarmmarket.com.


Memorial Day Festival and Parade in Shenandoah, Va.

Food and games on Carnival Grounds, Third St., on May 26 from 5 to 10 p.m. and May 27 from 5 to 11 p.m. Cruz-In, DJ music and food festival on First St., May 27 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. FCCLA Chinese Auction at PCHS Commons Area on May 27 at 6:30 p.m. Flag Retirement cermony at Shenandoah Veterans Park, May 27 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Free admission, open to the public.


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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!

LOVE sign at Constitution Park in Waynesboro, Virginia

Constitution Park, located on the banks of the South River, is home to the Waynesboro Farmers Market, and has a two shelters and a soccer field. It was also designated as the first Urban Trout Fishery in Virginia.

About Christy McKee

Christy McKee is a professional portrait and wedding photographer since 2011, based in Staunton, Virginia. She lives there with her husband and hopes to raise her children within the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley. Mrs. McKee uses both film and digital photography to capture the details of daily life, She also is involved with landscape and macro photography.

...photo by Christy McKee