Tom Eshelman, general manager of the Shenandoah County Fair, said the barn that several Virginia horsemen called home would definitely be replaced but insurance money would not cover the cost.
“We’d like to bring the entire structure back but the funds may not be there,” he said. “What we rebuild will be determined by the donations we get.”
The 97-year-old barn burned down during the early morning hours of Feb. 14. Although the only horse that was stabled there at the time was rescued, more than three-quarters of the barn’s stalls were destroyed, Eshelman said. The cause of the fire is technically undetermined but Eshelman believes wiring was the cause.
|Nancy Lisi photo|
|The 97-year-old barn burned down during the early morning hours of Feb. 14.|
The loss of the historic stable hit a lot of people hard.
“It was not just a loss to harness racing folks it was a loss to the whole community,” Eshelman said. “It had a lot of charm.”
Although the structure was insured for $20,000, damage is estimated at just under $100,000, according to Eshelman.
“Quite frankly we were under-insured,” he said.
Because of that, he’s hoping that both the Shenandoah County community and the harness racing community will step up and donate what they can. Eshelman has already received a number of small individual donations as well as “a substantial donation” from a racetrack.
“We are having people say they want to help,” he said.
Longtime area trainer and musician Nancy Lisi said her group, the Catjammers, had already donated $500 to the cause.
“We want to send more to rebuild,” she said.
Eshelman hopes a May event that was planned before the fire will also generate support for the rebuilding project. The fairgrounds will host a “Wine and Trotter Festival” on May 11. The event, he explained, will be a wine tasting featuring an afternoon of racing at the fairgrounds. Mike Wandishin, racing secretary at Rosecroft Raceway, will help coordinate the racing, Eshelman said.
Even though the event was scheduled before the fire, Eshelman says it will help bring attention to the cause.
“It was planned to help reach out to a new crowd,” he said, adding that in the past the fairgrounds had never raced except during the county fair. “We’re hoping for success with that.”
Those who want to donate to the rebuilding fund can send their contributions to: Shenandoah County Fair, Barn Fund, P.O. Box 264, Woodstock, VA 22664.