Dragon boat race, county fair, music are weekend highlights

By Josette Keelor

The last area county fair of summer begins in Woodstock today. Expect livestock shows, carnival rides, free nightly music and lots of new surprises.

This weekend, also expect two area music and barbecue festivals and a Saturday boat race like no other.

The Waggin’ for Dragons Boat Race in Front Royal on Saturday will benefit the Humane Society of Warren County and feature nine teams of 20 paddlers and a drummer racing for a win at Front Royal Golf Course boat landing along the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.

The race is named for the 40-foot canoes dressed as Chinese dragons with eyes painted on the morning of the event, according to Humane Society of Warren County Executive Director Lavenda Denney.

The “Dotting of the Dragon Eye” will take place at the 8:45 a.m. opening ceremony. Team members will paint in their dragons’ eyes, “because the dragons can’t race without an eye,” Denney said.

“We’re expecting 189 athletes that are competing in the race,” she said.

The race, which begins at 9 a.m., is sponsored by Shenandoah Ford and Petco Foundation and will include four food vendors and a 2:30 p.m. presentation of medals for the first three teams that cross the finish line, the team that raises the most money for the Humane Society and the team with the most spirit. The grand champion team will keep its trophy until next year’s race.

“Everyone’s encouraged to bring a chair, and you can sit right along the river bank and watch the race,” Denney said.

Dragon Boat racing, which according to the website http://wagginfordragons.com originated in southern China, is the fastest growing water sport in the world. It will challenge participants to synchronize their strokes to gain momentum along the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.

The Humane Society of Warren County worked with the 22Dragons boat club in Montreal, Canada, to bring the race to Front Royal after Ellen Aders of State Farm in Front Royal suggested the fundraiser she had seen in her hometown of Paducah, Kentucky.

“No costumes this year,” Denney said, “but we might work up to that.”

There is no parking available at the boat landing. Shuttle service begins at 7 a.m. from the Lowe’s parking lot in Front Royal. The event is free to spectators. Information: Front Royal County Club at 540-635-9061, Humane Society at 540-635-4734 or http://wagginfordragons.com

The Shenandoah County Fair will open at 5 p.m. Friday, offering vendors and carnival rides. Gate admission is $4 for anyone 13 and older, and Friday’s special ride pricing will be $1 per ride. At 6 p.m., enjoy the first ever ATV drag racing event in Woodstock, sponsored by The Northern Virginia Daily, Valley Motorsports and The River 95.3 FM. Grandstand admission is $5.

Saturday’s Family Fun Day at the fair will feature games and activities for all ages, with the free county tractor pull in the Grandstand at 12:15 p.m., sponsored by Rockingham Cooperative, the band Many Nights Ahead at 6 p.m. on the Comfort Inn of Woodstock Free Music Stage and the modified truck and tractor pull, sponsored by G.B Foltz Contracting and AmeriGas, at 6:30 p.m. in the Grandstand.

Sunday’s Firefighter’s Day will feature free community events with fair admission, including the Shenandoah County fireman’s competition at 7 p.m. in the Grandstand. Shenandoah County Fire & Rescue Personnel will have free admission to the fair with proper ID.

The midway opens at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and at 5 p.m. on weekdays. The fair, at 300 Fairground Road, Woodstock, runs through Aug. 30. Information: 540-459-3867, http://www.shencofair.com

On Friday, Berryville’s final Music in the Park event will feature Old Flames performing old time music, Celtic tunes and ballads from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Rose Hill Park on Main Street. Admission is free. Bring a blanket and picnic dinner, but no alcohol allowed. Information: 540-955-4001, http://www.berryvillemainstreet.org for weather updates

Gazebo Gatherings in Front Royal will complete its summer run with the band Vinyl Tracks performing an all-Beatles tribute show at 7 p.m. at the gazebo on Main and Chester streets. Admission is free. Information: 540-635-9909, http://www.blueridgearts.org, www.facebook.com/BlueRidgeArts

Saturday in Harrisonburg, the Blue Ridge Music and BBQ Festival will be held at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds, 4808 S. Valley Pike. Enjoy live music all day with a Battle of the Bands competition from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Tara Mills Band from 3 to 4 p.m. and The Judy Chops at 4:30 p.m.

A cruise-in of vintage and antique cars and trucks will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and barbecue tastings will take place around 2 p.m., with a 100-person limit on People’s Choice tasting tickets available at the HR Chamber tent for $2.

Look for cornhole games, a steak and wing eating contest, barbecue competition and children’s activities throughout the day. Admission is $7 in advance and $10 at the gate. Children 10 and younger get in free. Information: 540-434-3662, http://www.blueridgemusicandbbq.com/

Saturday’s Honky Tonk Blues & Barbeque event in Middletown will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. at the pavilion at Wayside Inn and include dinner by Mr. B’s Barbeque, or chicken, two sides and a non-alcoholic beverage for $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Draft beer will be $2. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Order advance tickets at the Wayside Inn, 7783 Main St., Middletown, at 540-869-1797 or through Honky Tonk Blues at 540-271-4593. Tickets are $10 for children 6 to 12 and free to younger children. Seating is limited. Information: https://www.facebook.com/waysideinn1797

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com>