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Group plans for equine and agriculture center

By Staff | Sep 21, 2018

KEARNEYSVILLE — A Rural Business Development Grant was recently awarded to a local group, to conduct a feasibility study for the development of a horse park and agricultural center in Jefferson County.

The group’s goal, to build the Shenandoah Horse Park and Agricultural Center, is one step closer with the acquisition of this grant. The Shenandoah Horse Park group has contracted with Markin Consulting to conduct the feasibility study. As part of the process, stakeholder meetings were held last week in Shepherdstown, where agencies, politicians, potential users and funders were gathered around the table to flesh out the possibility of the facility.

The plan is for the horse park and agricultural center to be located in Jefferson County, where it will offer a multi-use equine and agricultural hub to provide recreational opportunities, as well as support the local racing industry.

The Shenandoah Horse Park and Agricultural Center project, according to promotional material, is led by a small board of directors interested in equestrian sport, agriculture, conservation and economic development consistent with Jefferson’s agricultural and sporting history.

Board member Meredith Wait said the hope is to find a location within the county that encompasses approximately 200 to 400 acres and that is adjacent to a main thoroughfare such as Route 9 or Route 340. This is essential for easy access of those traveling to use the facility, Wait said.

The proposed park will create a high-quality venue for equestrian activities and competitions, serving western, English, trail and pleasure riders.

The organizing group hopes to partner with many entities to see the project come to fruition. Possible among those partners are schools, agricultural organizations, local and state governments and other businesses who would likely benefit from the tourism generated by the facility.

Plans for the facility also include year-round recreational activity with a phased development of a coliseum, covered arena with seating, outdoor competition and training rings, a cross country course, dressage arena, wall-weather gallop and barns.

Those interested in partnering with or monitoring the progress of the venture can contact organizers at shenandoahhorsepark.com.

The vision for a horse park and agricultural center in Jefferson County, is a step closer to fruition thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The $28,000 Rural Business Development Grant will be used for an in-depth feasibility study for the proposed Shenandoah Horse Park and Agricultural Center.

The study, which follows a preliminary study and survey, will examine the issues of potential locations, levels of utilization, stakeholders and how the market will support facility income.

Once completed in early 2019, the study will lay out the development of a business plan for the center.

The goal for development of the center is to provide a multi-use equine and agricultural facility, to encourage tourism, local and state economic development, recreation and environmental-education opportunities.

There currently is not a facility of its kind within a 100-mile radius of Jefferson County.