County fair to kick off 100th anniversary with parade

It’s been decades since their last one, but the Shenandoah County Fair is bringing back the parade.

The fair, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, will kick off the festivities with a parade on Aug. 24 in Woodstock that will feature local high school marching bands, various floats and other businesses that want to celebrate the fair’s centennial.

“Back in the days of old, the fair always began with a parade to the fairgrounds,” said Matt Hyden, who, along with Mike Ashley, is a co-chair of the parade. “To help commemorate the 100th anniversary, that was something they thought about bringing back. They tossed the idea around, and now it’s something we’re moving forward with.”

The parade will start at 6:30 p.m. on the 24th and will travel south on Main Street. It will start at the Woodstock Shopping Center and will end at Buettner Tire Distributors next to the Massanutten Military Academy Football Field. Line-up begins at 5:45 on Mill Street and in the parking lot of the County Government Building.

One of the attractions to help celebrate Shenandoah County as a whole will be a combination performance by local bands.

“We have the SHS, CHS and SJHS marching bands participating and they’re doing something really unique,” Hyden said. “Instead of marching as three independent high schools, they’re going to march all three together as one big all-county high school marching band. They’ll be the first band in the parade.”

Another local spin on the parade will be the inclusion of Woodstock resident Art LaFlam as the parade’s grand marshal. LaFlam is most known for standing on the bridge on Reservoir Street in Woodstock and waving the American flag at motorists on Interstate 81.

But despite the parade not being part of the fair for at least 30 years, officials wanted to bring it back to drive home that sense of community the fair is hoping to achieve.

“I think it’s a cool reflection on the sense of community,” said Tom Eshelman, general manager of the fairgrounds. “Having something in the county that everyone takes pride in, as far as their county fair, and all the people that showcase their livestock, their crops, canned goods, artwork, their sewing. Having the parade, bringing back something traditional for the 100th anniversary, that shows the sense of community.”