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

Saxophone Ensemble concert at Shenandoah University

Armstrong Concert Hall, 1460 University Drive.Shenandoah Conservatory Saxophone Ensemble. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, visit www.su.edu


Clarinet Choir concert at Shenandoah University

Armstrong Concert Hall, 1460 University Drive. Shenandoah Conservatory Clarinet Choir presents works by Hersant, Jeanjean, Carter, Defaye and more. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, visit www.su.edu


Garden Walkabout program at Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Va.

901 Amherst St. Meet at the garden entrance. Guided garden tour. Weather permitting. Admission: Museum members admitted free. All others $20. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, call 540-662-1473 or visit www.themsv.org


Poetry program at Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Va.

901 Amherst St. Actors from Shenandoah Conservatory read poetry while strolling through the museum gardens. For all ages, picnics encouraged. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, call 540-662-1473 or visit www.themsv.org


Historical program at Barns of Rose Hill in Berryville, Va.

95 Chalmers Ct. Howard Means, author of book about the Kent State Shootings: 67 Shots - Kent State and the End of American Innocence. Reservations requested. Free admission. For more information, visit www.barnsofrosehill.org


Art exhibition at Barns of Rose Hill in Berryville, Va.

95 Chalmers Ct. Thru the Garden Gate Art Exhibit. Garden-themed multimedia exhibit featuring paintings, sculptures, photographs, textiles and pottery by artists from Clarke County and beyond. Artwork will be for sale. Runs through May 28. Presentation by Suzann Smith Wilson on April 23, from 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Free admission. Open to the public. For more information, call 540-955-2004 or visit www.barnsofrosehill.org


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.


Pottery art show in Martinsburg, Va.

Berkeley Art Works Gallery, 116 North Queen St. Special Exhibit Gallery at the Berkeley Art Works. Shenandoah Clay, by members of the Shenandoah Potters Guild. Sponsored by The Berkeley Arts Council. Runs May 4-June 4. Also exibiting in Back Space Gallery: Off the Shelves, hand-made clocks by local mixed media collage artist and clock maker. For more information, visit www.berkeleyartswv.org.


Library of Virginia traveling exhibit in Staunton, Va.

Staunton Public Library, 1 Churchville Ave. Virginia Women in History celebrates past and present female Virginians. Part of a year-long tour of cultural institutions across the state. Runs through May 14. Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m. Free admission. For more information call 540-332-3902 or visit www.stauntonlibrary.org


Bluegrass music jam sessions in Lexington, Va.

Blue Sky Bakery, 16 Lee Ave. Live bluegrass music every Wednesday morning. Bring a musical instrument to jam with, or just listen.


Staunton Augusta Wednesday Farmers Market in Staunton, Va.

Wharf Lot. Runs every week hrough 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


Shenandoah National Park photo project

Historic Photos Then and Now Centennial Project. Shenandoah National Park is recruiting volunteer photographers to choose an historic photo from an online gallery and produce a 2016 image of that same place or feature as closely as possible to the historic one, to produce a collection of Then and Now photos. The Shenandoah National Park Association will use selected photos on upcoming publications. Rules and application information are involved. For more information, call 540-999-3500, extension 3183 or visit www.nps.gov


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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.

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Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport

Blue Ridge Mountains loom in the distance at the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport in Weyers Cave, Virginia

About Hank Zimmerman

Hank Zimmerman owns and operates Shenandoah Valley Productions LLC, publisher of ShenandoahValley.com.

...photo by Hank Zimmerman