Pari-Mutual Horse Racing Across America!

Race Tracks of Yesterday and Today

Keeping the Memories Alive

Pikes Peak Meadows

Last But Not Least - Great Barrington

From 1940 till 1976 under the leadership of Ed Carroll, a local business man who owned Riverside Park (now Six Flags), the largest amusement park in New England, The Great Barrington Fair was the premier stop on the fair circuit. The "Big-B" not only had the largest purses, it had a commercial style grandstand with a clubhouse section, with the most scenic grounds on the circuit. Even the ride there was enjoyable, looping through the Berkshires along the Housatonic River, there was even culture along the way with Chester Wood and the Norman Rockwell museum on the route. Did I mention it had it's own steak house on the grounds, did anyone ever eat there? I was always too distracted on the way in and too broke on the way out.
   In 1978, the fair dates at Berkshire Downs were moved to Great Barrington, a move that paid off for 24 year old apprentice rider, Debbie Riemers, who rode 17 year old war horse, Golden Arrow to victory and national prominence that first year. Unfortunately, for Great Barrington the "Black Cloud" that hung over Berkshire Downs, also made the 30 mile journey south.
   Interest started to fall off for the fair and in 1983, new owners combined the start of the Berkshire meet with an Irish Music Festival, sounds harmless, well the $12.50 admission wasn't, horse player were irate and pretty much boycotted the Berkshire season, causing a financial loss that almost cost the running of the Barrington meet. Barrington did go to post, but for the last time for eight years.
   In 1984, the track was so strapped it wasn't granted a license, but it was a mute point, as the usually peaceful Housatonic River overflowed it's banks in the spring and wiped out the Barrington racing surface. After an expensive rebuild the track re-opened in 1991, but only lasted a that year. In 1995 the "jinx" continued, a tornado of all things ripped through Great Barrington and took dead aim on you know what, but there was one bullet left in the chamber.
   Eventually another sucker, I mean investor came along and after another costly rebuild racing returned to the fair in 1997, with the hope of turning the track into a OTB. The OTB never happened and racing ended for good after the 1998 fair. Today the grounds sit abandoned like a scene out of "Great Expectations", there was idle chatter about racing returning after Suffolk Downs closed, but it was just noise. It looks like Barrington will follow the Weymouth Fair and become a housing development.
   Over the years, everyone seemed to love Great Barrington, well almost everyone, there is Andy Beyers who didn't seemed too taken by the place. His take, "Barrington Fair, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Crime" guess he never heard the quip "All's Fair at the Fair"
  

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If you find your way to this site, welcome.  This is my attempt to document American pari-mutual venues that exist or existed since around 1966 when my love affair with horse racing begin. Everything may not be totally accurate, but it's an honest attempt to provide some information about each site, no matter how big or small. This site is in the process of being re-done, states from Alabama to (NH) New Hampshire have been converted to CSS, the others are HTML and being worked on.      

If you can provide any info a program or photo especially of the obscure or defunct ones, or to just comment send me an email

 When I started out on this project I wanted to focus on what was lost, the defunct race tracks of yesterday. After doing some research it seemed that I should also focus on what’s here because it too will someday probably be lost. Racetracks that exist today are fragile existence’s and could be gone in a hoof beat.

For those of us who were fans long ago let’s pretend its pre nineteen ninety legally there weren’t many options you probably had your one track or circuit, you probably had to drive a while to get there and only could make it on weekends. If that’s the case then there’s a good chance that where you used to turn to get to the track is now a mall or a housing development.

Thinking back what do you really remember about the track itself the sights, sounds, smells. They all offered the same product but they were all unique in their own way. Maybe it was the barber shop the self serve eatery where you walked through with a tray. It could have been the beer, you had one choice back then draught beer and a least for the first one or two they all had a different taste. As crazy as it sounds the men’s room each had its own particular aroma or hearing the sound of “seat boss’ being yelled out by the porter. How many things can you remember.

I’m from New England and in the mid-seventy’s you could find live racing every day but Christmas and during the warmer months you choice of around eight to ten tracks you could attend. Now there are only three left. So pick a spot on the map and find where you used to go or still do maybe it will bring back some memories.

Like me it could make you wish for one more day at old smoky, dusty Lincoln Downs or to wake up once more with a horrific hangover from a day of drinking Piels Real Draught at the Northhampton Fair.