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, including among folks who 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


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


Artist reception at James Madison University

James Madison University Art Students exhitibiton: Coping. Free admission, open to the public.. For more information, visit www.jmu.edu
 


Roots Music and Step-Dancing concert at Barns of Rose Hill in Berryville, Va.

95 Chalmers Ct. April Verch Band. Featuring acoustic guitar, mandolin, bass and clawhammer banjo in addition to Verch on vocals, fiddle and foot percussion. For more information, call 540-955-2004 or visit barnsofrosehill.org


Bicycling evente in Natural Bridge, Va.

Natural Bridge Park, 15 Appledore Lane. Natural Bridge Cycling Challenge. Historic and scenic Rockbridge County routes include Lexington, Vesuvius, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Buena Vista and Natural Bridge Station. 31, 63 or 94-mile routes with varying elevation challenges. For more information, visit sport-vista.sportngin.com


Ballet performance at Court Square Theater in Harrisonburg, Va.

41-F Court Square. Ballet Extension, Rockingham Ballet Theatre Dance Recital Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, visit ValleyArts.org


Saturday guided walking tours in Staunton, Va.

Emily Smith House porch at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, 24 North Coalter St. Saturdays from May to October at 10 a.m. Tour four of six historic districts. Unique architecture. Runs approximately two hours. No reservations needed. Dress comfortably with appropriate footwear. Rain or shine. For more information, call 540-885-7676 or visit www.historicstaunton.org


Patsy Cline tribute show at Bright Box Theater in Winchester, Va.

15 N Loudoun St. Melissa Wright and Her All-Star Band presents A Tribute to the Music of Patsy Cline featuring members of the Plank Stompers, Minks Miracle Medicine, The Plate Scrapers, and the Woodshedders. For more information, visit www.brightboxwinchester.com


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. Staged Reading: Caesar and Pompey. Admission: Pay-what-you-will. 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. Runs through July 31. Exhibition Opening Reception on April 23 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Admission: Museum members admitted free. All others $20. Open to the public. For more information, call 540-662-1473 or visit www.themsv.org


Bluegrass music festival at The Bloom in Winchester, Va.

Event tent at 1755 North Sector Court on the campus of the Winchester Medical Center. Dailey and Vincent. Limited ticket availability. Reserved seating: $40. General admission: $30 a seat. Tickets at Apple Blossom Headquarters at 135 North Cameron St., when available. For more information, call 540-662-3863 or visit www.thebloom.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!

Late afternoon in Mount Jackson, Virginia

Parts of the Valley Pike - U.S. Route 11 - here at Mount Jackson, Va. have changed relatively little from Civil War times

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