Racing, wine and music slated

As the calendar moves into June, Northern Shenandoah Valley residents can look forward to more events each weekend. This weekend’s highlights include the Wine and Trotter Festival and a new Friday concert series in New Market.

Wine and Trotter Festival

In its third year, Shenandoah County Fair General Manager Tom Eshelman said the Wine and Trotter Festival in Woodstock will be “more compact.”

“We used to spread out over the length of a football field, so now we’re very compacted in behind the grandstands,” Eshelman said.

Behind the grandstands, there will be a collection of local food vendors and representatives from local wineries and vineyards. On the fairground track in front of the stands, residents will be watching harness racing.

The races – Eshelman said there will be between 4 and 6 of them – will feature “up-and-coming 2 and 3 year-olds that haven’t proven themselves quite yet.”

Eshelman added that the United States Trotting Association is sanctioning Saturday’s races. If a horse wins, there is a potential that it can be sanctioned for professional events.

For Virginians, the event is unique in that it contains all of the features of a wine festival – food vendors and local tastings – with the added bonus of all-day harness racing.

Eshelman said Saturday’s event is a good opportunity for people to learn more about the world of harness racing. The fairgrounds is now the only track in Virginia that holds harness racing events, he said.

“We’re hoping for our track to be recognized by possible horseman’s groups in the future to be utilized for more harness racing,” Eshelman said.

Eshelman said he is hoping for a crowd 1,000 people and for the weather hold off this weekend. It has rained during the previous two Wine and Trotter Festivals.

Tickets are now one sale, with prices ranging from $16 online to $20 for racing and wine tickets and $10 for just the racing.

More information at: http://www.shencofair.com.

New Market Cross Roads Fest

Cross Roads Fest at Rebel Park in New Market is a new event this year.

Brittany Clem, the town’s events and marketing director, said the festival is a family event.

“We’re doing this music series in an effort to enhance the quality of life in New Market and to help build community,” Clem said, noting that it is not a “for-profit event” since admission is free.

Clem added, “This is giving people something to do on a Friday evening to kick-start their weekend, so they don’t have to travel far away … to do something enjoyable.”

She said they chose Rebel Park as the host location because of its “beautiful mountain backdrop” as well as the “functionality of the space.”

In addition to the music, the four concerts that will be held on Friday nights through September, will feature a beer and wine garden as well as local food vendors. Local musical groups playing bluegrass, Americana, blues and rock ‘n’ roll will perform.  In going this route, Clem said she spoke to area event planners, festival planners and the public about band selection.

“The public has voiced their opinion to me to not only make this a bluegrass-specific event or rock-specific event,” Clem said. “What they wanted … is variety.”

Part of this year’s variety will include a Charlottesville-based group called Erin and the Wildfires that dabbles in blues, rock and even soul.

“I wanted to schedule bands that best represent the artistic abilities of musicians in the area and surrounding areas,” Clem said.

The first of the concerts will be held at 6:30 p.m. today at Rebel Park and will feature a Westminster, Maryland-based bluegrass band called The Martin Brothers.

The concerts are technically rain or shine, however Clem said the town will move the concerts indoors to the New Market Community Center if the need should arise.

“I just encourage people to come out and enjoy the event. I think it’ll be a really good time,” Clem said.

To view the schedule, visit: http://bit.ly/1KaoL4j.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com