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Temporary stalls to be used at harness racing event

Lacey Martson, left, works out Sunshine Chimes and Betsy Brown, right, works Revenue Eyecatcher on the racetrack at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds on Thursday afternoon. The Wine and Trotter Festival will be held this Saturday at the fairgrounds. Rich Cooley/Daily

Tracey Martson of Woodstock jogs Lotto Jet around the track at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds on Thursday afternoon. The Wine and Trotter Festival will be held Saturday at the fairgrounds. Rich Cooley/Daily

Betsy Brown of Woodstock walks Sun Chimes back to the stables after a workout Thursday afternoon at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Sally Voth

A lack of trackside horse stables is no hindrance to this Saturday's first-ever Wine and Trotter Festival at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds.

Nor will a soggy forecast put a damper on the wine tasting and harness racing exhibition.

The festival comes three months after a blaze destroyed most of the fairgrounds' 97-year-old horse barns.

"The barns are not rebuilt," Fair General Manager Tom Eshelman said Wednesday. "We're still examining layouts, different avenues of how to rebuild the barn, and getting quotes in from local builders. And, still fundraising."

Eshelman estimated rebuilding costs at $80,000-$90,000.

He said the Wine and Trotter Festival is a "rain-or-shine event."

"I just ordered a bunch of tents," Eshelman said. "We borrowed some stable panels from the Rockingham County Fair."

Additionally, the fairgrounds' old show barn and one of the beef barns will be used to hold some of the horses, he said.

"Some horses are coming in on Friday, and they're going to be staying at local farms, and then other horses are going to be coming in on Saturday," Eshelman explained.

The wine and harness racing fair was planned before the fire, he said. Eshelman added Shenandoah County has the last fair in the state that has a harness racing track that features the sport during fair time.

Shenandoah County Fire Marshal David Ferguson said the fire remains under investigation while he awaits lab results.

"At this time, I don't have any indications that it was a set fire," he said.


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