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

Street festival in Shenandoah, Va.

First St. Annual Cruz In on Historic First St. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, call 540-652-1401.


Music and Dancing in Raphine, Va.

Clarks Ole Time Music Center, located at Clarks Lumber Co., 1288 Ridge Road. longtime Friday-night tradition of old-time music and dance from 7:30-10 p.m. Admission: $8 per person, $15 per couple. For more information, call 540-377-2490.


Guided walking tours in downtown Lexington, Va.

Meet at the Lexington Visitor Center. Every Friday at 3 p.m., from April through November. Rain or shine. No reservations required. Wear comfortable shoes. For more information, call 540-463-3777.


New Market Farmers Market in New Market, Va.

Behind the 7-Eleven store at I-81 interchange. Fridays from May 13 through October from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 540-740-3432 or visit newmarketvirginia.com


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.


Art exhibition at Carrier Arboretum in Harrisonburg, Va.

780 University Blvd. Frances Plecker Education Center. Art in the Arboretum. Watercolor paintings by Carol Kirkham Martin. Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.Runs May 20 through June 30. Free admission. For more information, call 540-568-3194 or visit www.jmu.edu/arboretum


Community band concert at Glen Maury Park in Buena Vista, Va.

101 Maury River Drive. Multi-Purpose Area. Fridays in the Park with Southpaw. For More Information, call 540-261-7321 or visit www.glenmaurypark.com


Music In The Garden at Boxerwood Nature Center in Lexington, Va.

Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden. 963 Ross Road. Outdoor music concert series every second and fourth Friday, April through September. Picnicking starts at 5:30 p.m., live music from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Free admission. For more information, call 540-463-2697.


Guided tours in Staunton, Va.

Meet at Staunton Visitors Center. Guided trolley and walking tours. Year-round. For more information, call 540-208-1741 or visit www.stauntonguidedtours.com


Film screening at Court Square Theater in Harrisonburg, Va.

Love and Friendship. Comedy. Theater members save 20 percent and get free popcorn. Tickets: Adults, $9.50. Seniors and students,$8.50. Matinee Before 5 p.m., $8. For more information, visit ValleyArts.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. Arms and the Man. For more information, call 1-877-682-4236 or visit www.americanshakespearecenter.com.


Art exhibition at Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Va.

901 Amherst St. Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau will present works from the Dhawan Collection, Los Angeles, one of the largest collections of Alphonse
Mucha work in the United States, in a traveling exhibitioin. Changing Exhibitions Gallery. For more information, call 540-662-1473, extension 240 or visit www.theMSV.org.


Music in The Garden series at Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden in Lexington, Va.

963 Ross Road, Meadow Stage area.Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden. 963 Ross Road. Outdoor music concert series every second and fourth Friday, April through September. Picnicking starts at 5:30 p.m., live music from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Free admission. For more information, call 540-463-2697.


Art exhibition in Staunton, Va.

Upstairs Gallery in the R.R. Smith Center for History and Art, 20 S. New St. Art, A Path to Recovery, works by consumers of mental health service. May 6 through May 31 call ahead for availability times. Opening Reception on May 6 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  For more information, call 540-885-2028 or visit www.saartcenter.org


Outdoor yoga in Luray, Va.

Ruffner Plaza. Yoga on the Greenway. Fridays in May from 6-7 p.m. For ages 12 years and older. Sponsored by Page Memorial Hosptital Fitness and Luray Parks and Recreation Dept. Free admission.


Memorial Day Festival and Parade in Shenandoah, Va.

Food and games on Carnival Grounds, Third St., on  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!

Mennonite horse and buggy in Rockingham County, Virginia

With European settlers populating the Shenandoah Valley came people of Mennonite and Brethern faith. They brought strong moral values and a hard work ethic. Many of the productive farms they establshed still flourish today.

About Manny Jose

Manny Jose has loved the Shenandoah Valley since the mid-1970s when he came to the area as a university student. He moved back to the Valley permanently in 1999. Subsequently, since 2012, he has been passionately taking photographs to capture the scenic beauty, rich history, unique people groups and cultures, and current happenings in the Valley.

...photo by Manny Jose