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

Staunton Augusta Saturday Farmers Market in Staunton, Va.

Wharf Lot. Runs every week through November. Saturdays: 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesdays: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Producer-only market with fresh foods, baked goods, plants and more. Free parking available. For more information, visit www.safarmersmarket.com


Old Town Farmers Market in Winchester, Va.

Taylor Pavilion. ld Town Farmers Market. May 14 through September on Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Local food vendors and musicians. In-season fruits, vegetables, artisan breads, cookies, cheese, grass fed beef, gluten free bread, cured meats, jam, eggs, honey and more. All items grown or produced within a 60-mile radius of Winchester. Restrooms available.


Strawberry Festival at Sky Meadows State Park in Delaplane, Va.

11012 Edmonds Ln. Delaplane Strawberry Festival. May 28 and 29, 10 p.m. to 5 p.m. Hayrides, old fashioned field games, dancing, music, magic, storytelling, crafts, a petting farm, an antique car show, a bake sale, hikes, face painting, cake-walking, a corn hole tournament, open house tours of Mount Bleak House, and more. Hosted by Emmanuel Episcopal Church, benefits charitable organizations. Admission: $25per car. For more information, call 540-592-3556 or visit www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/sky-meadows


Farmers Market in Luray, Va.

Mechanic St. Every Saturday, May 14 - Sept. 24. For more information, visit luraypage.chambermaster.com/events/calendar


Puppet theater performance in Martinsburg, W.Va.

412 W. King St.The Frog Prince. Runs May 7-June 12. Saturday and Sundays at 1 p.m. Admission: $6 for ages two years and older, under age two admitted free. For more information, call 304-258-4074 or visit www.wondermentpuppets.com


Historic house tours in Dayton, Va.

382 High St. Historic Cromer-Trumbo House c. 1840 on the grounds of the Heritage Museum. Tours on last Saturday of the month, April through Aug., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, call 540-879-2616.


Old-Time and Traditional Americana concert at Barns of Rose Hill in Berryville, Va.

95 Chalmers Ct. The Corn Potato String Band. Champion fiddlers, as well as banjo, guitar, bass and mandolin, performing ballads, ho-downs, country rags and southern gospel, specializing in twin fiddling and double banjo tunes. For more information, call 540-955-2004 or visit barnsofrosehill.org


Newtown Heritage Festival in Stephens City, Va.

Newtown Commons. May 27-28. Parade, craft show, vendors, fireworks, and open houses at the Stone House Foundation Museum, 5165 main St. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, call 540-869-3087.


Civil War history program in Middletown, Va.

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, front lawn. 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaigns in a Box. 30 minute program provides an overview of either the the 1862 or 1864 Shenandoah Valley Civil War campaigns. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/cebe


Film screening at Court Square Theater in Harrisonburg, Va.

61 Graham St.41-F Court Sq. Sing St. Drama. Shows on May 27-29 at 4:30 p.m., 7:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. May 30-June 2 at 4:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Members save 20 percent and get free popcorn. Tickets: Adult, $9.50. Seniors and students, $8.50. Matinee before 5 p.m.: $8. For more information, call 540-801-8779 or visit www.courtsquaretheater.com


Community choral concert in Luray, Va.

1 E. Main St. Chasing Life with a little help from Main St. Singers. May 28 are at 7:30 p.m., May 29 at 2:30 p.m. Cash Bar. Tickets available locally. Family friendly. Tickets: $15 for adults and $8 ages under 18.For more information, visit performingartsluray.com.


Farmers Market in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Butlers Farm Market, 1793 Dry Run Rd. Open through November 10, Mondays through Saturdays 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.gowhereitgrows.com


Ghost tours in Staunton, Va.

Weekend Ghost Tours around Downtown Staunton. Weekends through October. For more information, call 540-448-2743 or visit www.ghostsofstaunton.com


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

95 Chalmers Ct. The Corn Potato String Band performs on fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass and mandolin. 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


House and Gardens Open at Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Va.

901 Amherst St. 2016 Glen Burnie House and Gardens season runs through Oct. 30. The exhibition, SuzanneStryk: Notes on the State of Virginia, will be on view in the house throughout the season. For more information, call 540-662-1473, extension 240 or visit www.theMSV.org.


Waynesboro Farmers Market in Waynesboro, Va.

Parking Lot alongside Arch Ave., 215 W. Main St. Saturdays, May 7-Oct. 8 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, visit www.waynesborofarmersmarket.org


Comedy Weekend at Bright Box Theatre in Winchester, Va.

15 N. Loudoun St. May 27, 8 p.m., May 28, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. For more information, call 1-800-838-3006 or visit www.brightboxwinchester.com.


Bluegrass and BBQ Series concert at Barns of Rose Hill in Berryville, Va.

95 Chalmers Ct. Mile Twelve performs Doors open at 7 p.m., concert at 8 p.m. Locally-made BBQ available from 7 p.m. to 8:30 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


Biennial Civil War Symposium at Virginia Military Institute

16th Biennial Stonewall Jackson Symposium. May 27-28. Lectures and presentations. For more information, call 540-464-7704 or visit www.stonewalljackson.org.


Theater performance at Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.

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


Theater performance at Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.

10 S. Market St. The Life of King Henry the Fifth. For more information, call 1-877-682-4236 or visit www.americanshakespearecenter.com.


Saturday Guided Walking Tours in Staunton, Va.

Emily Smith House porch at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library at 24 North Coalter St. Saturdays from May to Oct. 10 a.m. Hosted by Historic Staunton Foundation. Includes four of six historic districts, with volunteer guide. Covers history and architecture. Approximately two hours. No reservations required. Casual dress, wear comfortable walking shoes. Rain or shine. For more information, call 540-885-7676 or visit www.historicstaunton.org


Art festival in Staunton, Va.

Gypsy Hill Park. 50th Art in the Park at Gypsy Hill. May 28: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and May 29: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Hosted by Staunton Augusta Art Center. Juried art and fine craft, music, kids` activities, food trucks. Free admission. For more information, call 540-885-2028 or visit www.saartcenter.org


Wine and beer festival at Massanutten Resort in Megaheysville, Va.
16th annual event. Regional wines, craft and microbrews. Live music. Food available. Crafters and artisans. For more information, visit massresort.com
Block party in Staunton, Va.

Beverley St., near the Baja Bean Company. Staunton Jams. All day block party with local bands and kids activities. Free admission.


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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!

Hot Air Balloon at Long Branch Plantation in Clarke County, Virginia

Hot air balloons were once a feature of the annual mid-October Shenandoah Wine & Music Festival, held at Historic Long Branch Plantation, located near Millwood, Va.

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