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

Senior Thesis art exhibition at Bridgewater College

Cleo Driver Miller Art Gallery. Works by graduating senior art majors and minors. Runs May 2-14. Hours: 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Artists Reception on May 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. Free admission, open to the public.


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


Bluegrass music festival at Glen Maury Park in Buena Vista, Va.

101 Maury River Drive. Annual Guy Carawan Bluegrass Jam Rally May 1-7. For More Information, call 540-261-7321 or visit www.glenmaurypark.com


Film screening at Court Square Theater in Harrsionburg, Va.

I 41-F Court Square. A Hologram For The King. Drama. Shows on May 5 at 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. May 2, 3 and 4 at 4:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Theater members save 20 percent and get free popcorn. Tickets: Adults, $9.50. Senior and students, $8.50. Matinee Before 5 p.m., $8. For more information, visit ValleyArts.org


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

521 West Main St. Every Monday evening at 7 p.m. May 2, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. 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


Art show at Burwell-Morgan Mill in Millwood, Va.

15 Tannery Lane. Art at the Mill: Spring Show. April 23-May 8. Artists and buyers from over a dozen states. For more information, call 540-837-1799 or visit www.clarkehistory.org/art-at-the-mill.html


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


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


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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!

Stone House, Shenandoah County, Virginia

A stone house stands in a field just north of the village of Hudsons Crossroads, a few miles west of Mount Jackson, Shenandoah County, Virginia. The high doorway is an example of how early Valley settlers built their homes to ward off attacks by hostile Native Americans.

About West Phillips

West Phillips is an international portrait and travel photographer, currently based in Miami, Florida. He began his photography career in 2010 while living in San Francisco, California.

...photo by West Phillips