Foxfield Races – Sunday, September 25, 2016
The start of Fall in Charlottesville isn’t complete without the Foxfield Races, officially known as the Foxfield Racing Association (FRA) and Race Course. Held, since 1978, twice a year, in late April and in late September, the bi-annual event typically features seven to eight steeplechase races.
The Fall version is known more as a “Family Day” at the races with special events for children – those 8 and under can attend for free – and families starting at 10 am, including the Jack Russell Terrier Races at noon.
While the fall race typically sees between 3-4,000 attendees, the spring race attracts a larger crowd, with over 25,000 guests in attendance.
The official races start at 1:30 pm and gates close at 5 pm.
The 2015 Race Beneficiary is the Paramount Theatre, which has just launched a campaign to restore the iconic 33-ft.-tall “vertical blade” sign that was installed in 1931 and taken down in the 1960s.
In past years, the race benefited such groups as Service Dogs of Virginia, the Ronald McDonald House and Kids Pan Alley.
According to the official Foxfield Races website, “Mariann de Tejeda was a long time resident of Albemarle County who generously funded the purchase of property for what is now known as the Foxfield Racing Association and Race Course. Mrs de Tejeda incorporated the races and the grounds to support the ageless equestrian sport of steeplechasing.
Prior to the creation of Foxfield Races the property was the local airport with the hangar still visible today. The former owner, Grover Vandevener purchased the property and taught riding to people of all ages, with the majority of his students being children. Mr. Vandenever was the Huntsman for the Farmington Hunt Club, which at one time adjoined the Foxfield property. The Foxfield property is rich in heritage and since 1978 rich with the tradition of Steeplechase.
In 1977 Ms. de Tejeda collaborated with Raymond G. Wolfe, best known as the author of the defining book on Secretariat, to design and build one of the finest steeplechase courses on the Atlantic Seaboard. Mr. Wolfe ushered in the Foxfield affiliation with the National Steeplechase Association, an elite organization who runs and promotes nationally sanctioned steeplechase races.
Since 1978 to present day the attendees have witnessed spectacular horse racing. Thomas Shifflett, Race Course Superintendent, has been recognized by the National Steeplechase Association, owners, trainers and jockeys for maintaining an excellent equine course from the day of Foxfield’s inception.”
What to wear & where to watch the races
Traditionally, students and other attendees dress in a Southern, aristocratic style and seersucker, bowties, big hats and pastel colors abound, particularly at the spring race. Attendees even tailgate with elaborate spreads of elegant china and linens.
Given the lack of grandstands at the race, spectators are divided into multiple viewing areas. Access to these areas is generally determined by the type (or color) of ticket the spectator purchases. The different colors correspond to the location of the viewing area.
The FRA also set up two more exclusive viewing areas – the Chalet Tents and South Hill – to appeal to sponsors of the event.
Chalet Tents: These are tents located on the infield of the races, separated from the Orange and Green sections. Chalet tents offer a larger amount of space than a normal plot on the infield and also provide a more social environment that contrasts the private environment of the South Hill Tent area. The tents are about 400 sq. ft. and are welcome to large parties and entertainment.
South Hill: This is a tent area located on the outfield of the race that is removed from other viewing sections in a more private location. The tent area also includes its own parking so that those going to the South Hill Tent area do not have to be a part of the Foxfield traffic around the East and West Gate entrances.
In the past groups such as the Charlottesville Young Professionals, Wintergreen Performing Arts Center, etc., have all rented out South Hill Tents in order to bring groups of people together to meet and get to know one another.
Every year the FRA allows a large number of corporations to come sponsor the Foxfield Races. This lets a company promote their products to the large number of people that attend each year. Also this as a way to provide entertainment for fellow employees, families, and prospects. By becoming a sponsor, the company is offered a variety of speciality packages.
As a part of the 2009 Foxfield Races, the FRA initiated a “Go Green” Program, which encourages people attending the races to not use glass and to start recycling their cans. As a part of the “Go Green” program the FRA now transports all trash from the races to a recycling center and not a landfill.
Please note, the “Safe Ride” option is not available for the Fall race. You will, however, be allowed to leave your car overnight if necessary. The gates will open the next day at 9am for you to pick up your car. You will be able to pick up your car within 48 hours of the race event. After that, you run the risk of being towed.
Tickets are sold either online, at specific locations or at the race office. Orange and Green Infield Parking Places, Invitation Tickets and Invitation Parking are sold online, or through official ticket outlets. Rail Parking Places, and Sponsor Tickets are sold through the race office only.
Tickets and reserved parking spaces are available at the Race Office, or by calling 434-293-9501.
Tickets can also be purchased at at the following locations: Greenberry’s Coffee Shop in Barracks Rd; Pink Palm in Charlottesville and Richmond; Natty Beau; Timberlakes Drug Store; Mincer’s on the Corner at UVA; and Hunt Country Market, just across from Foxfield.