Race track to be ready for fair

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

WOODSTOCK — The Shenandoah County Fair Association is expected to finish upgrading its harness racing track in time for the fair in late August, according to the fair’s general manager.

Tom Eshelman said Tuesday that crews with Winchester-based Perry Engineering will finish moving dirt and start laying stone for the tracks at the Woodstock fairgrounds next week.

He added that many of the infrastructure updates have also been completed, including bathroom renovations and three miles of cables that have been laid underground.

“We’re ahead of schedule there,” he said. “They’re spreading the topsoil as we speak. I’m thinking the heavy equipment will be here until the end of the month.”

The Virginia Equine Alliance is financing the $700,000 track renovations. The group signed a 20-year lease with the fair association in March and will sponsor four weekends of harness races with pari-mutuel betting on Sept. 10.

The state created the alliance after Colonial Downs, the state’s only horse racing venue, closed in New Kent County in October 2014 due to a funding shortfall.

The Woodstock track, to be named Shenandoah Downs, is one of four sites in Virginia and Maryland the alliance has chosen to replace Colonial Downs.

Eshelman said the pulling track, which is also being renovated, will make its debut on Saturday for the third Valley Diesel Day, which features truck pulling and drag races.

The harness track, meanwhile, is scheduled to host its first races from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, during the county fair. Eshelman said the track’s facelift will result in some minor changes in the fair’s layout and operations this year.

“There won’t be any parking in the infield this year,” he said. “Also, the midway will be brought around a little tighter. We eliminated some vendor space to make room for the rides.”

For more information on upcoming harness races or the county fair, visit

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