Chincoteague Ponies

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UPDATE FROM THE CHINCOTEAGUE VOLUNTEER FIRE CO. - JUNE 2, 2021
Mark your calendars!! Here is the news that some of you have been waiting for. July's ONLINE foal auction will start on July 22nd at 7:00pm. It will end on July 29th at 7:00pm.
The auction is being held by sporthorseauctions.com and you MUST register with them!! Once you register with them you will also be able to see the rules and regulations of the auction. The photos of the foals will be on the website a few days prior and there WILL BE A CLEAR DESGINATION of buybacks on the listings. Payment due date is Friday, July 30th NO EXCEPTIONS. Final Foal Pick up date is August 1st. NO EXCEPTIONS. ALL INFORMATION ABOUT THE ONLINE AUCTION WILL BE ON sporthorseauctions.com
The northern herd will be rounded up on Sunday , July 25th starting at approximately 6:00am. Once rounded up and a brief rest, the mares and foals will be trailered to the carnival grounds and the remaining northern herd will be released back.
The southern herd will be rounded up on Monday, July 26th starting at approximately 6:00am. Once rounded up and after a brief rest, the mares and foals will be trailered to the carnival grounds and the remaining southern herd will be released.
Now, big question... can the public view the round ups? We haven't been told that you can't and now that most restrictions have been lifted we assume its ok for you all to come watch. If you haven't been vaccinated we respectfully ask that you maintain social distancing and wear a mask if in the crowd. If anything were to change with any of this information it will be posted ASAP.
The carnival and Swim will remain cancelled for 2021. The CVFC is already working on details for next year and it's going to be one heck of a 2022 carnival and pony penning event! We hope you will come and join us!!
UPDATE FROM THE CHINCOTEAGUE VOLUNTEER FIRE CO. - MARCH 16, 2021
Dear friends, After much deliberation the fire company regrets to announce the cancellation of the 2021 carnival/pony penning activities. By now we would already be more than half way through the planning phases and preparing for upcoming events.
Given the current orders from the Governor of Virginia we would not be able to have these events and not knowing when or if restrictions would be lifted in time to open.
It takes much time and many man hours to prepare for carnival, not to mention the amount of money it takes to get open not knowing if we would be under the same restrictions. Bottom line, too many unknowns to take a chance.
We will be doing the pony auction like last year, online. We will be selling shirts like last year, online.
You will be seeing people come and go at the carnival grounds doing maintenance work on buildings and rides to keep everything in order and to get ready for 2022.
For those of you who purchased raffle tickets in support of the Brianna Park which gives you two front row seats to the pony swim, that will be honored at the 2022 swim.
This has been a rough year for everyone. So many people have suffered unimaginable losses but I’m so confident that we all will bounce back in 2022 and that it will be the best year ever!!!
We thank you, our supporters who have stood by our side for so many years for all your encouraging words and donations. WE ARE YOUR FIRE COMPANY, WE ARE YOUR SALTWATER COWBOYS, WE ARE ONE TOGETHER WITH YOU and WITH YOU AND OUR COMMUNITY WE WILL ALWAYS REMAIN!!
All announcements about the pony auction will be here on this page and Denise will keep you all posted on such activities that you all will need and want to know. Until then, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!
Hunter Leonard CVFC President
  For 94 years now, we have held our Pony Penning and Carnival to the delight of visitors from around the world. At "slack tide" on the last Wednesday before the last Thursday of every July, Chincoteague's "Saltwater Cowboys" herd the wild Chincoteague ponies from Assateague Island, across the Assateague Channel, to neighboring Chincoteague Island. After the swim, the ponies "parade" to the carnival grounds where the foals are auctioned on the last Thursday of July. On Friday, the adult ponies will make the return swim to Assateague Island where they will live in the wild for another year.    

A MESSAGE FROM THE CHINCOTEAGUE VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY

  Please help us protect one of Chincoteague & Assateague Island's greatest gifts - the Chincoteague Ponies. When observing the Chincoteague Ponies while kayaking, canoeing, boating, touring, biking, walking, etc. please respect the following rules to keep you and the wild ponies safe.
  1. PLEASE keep a distance of at least 50 feet from the wild ponies.
  2. PLEASE do not feed the wild ponies. If you feed them anything other than the diet they are used to, it can cause severe colic and possibly kill them. The ponies can also bite, so feeding them items from their natural diet is also prohibited.
  3. PLEASE do not approach the wild ponies. They will bite and kick, especially if a foal is with its mare. Stallions are even more aggressive.
The Chincoteague Ponies may seem very docile while grazing in the marsh or along side the road but following these simple rules will keep you and the ponies safe. We know you love the Chincoteague Ponies but PLEASE love them from a distance and respect their home and natural habitat. Brochures with the above rules are available in the Chamber office courtesy of the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company.  

The 2021 Chincoteague Pony Swim, Auction and Carnival have all been cancelled. The events below WILL NOT take place this year.

Please save the date for the 2022 Swim & Auction - July 27 & 28, 2022

View Event Schedule

Friday, June 25 & Saturday, June 26 2021

Carnival – 7pm – 11pm. Rides, games, food, live music, BINGO and raffles.

Trolley Service – Last call at 11pm in front of Carnival Grounds ($0.50 per ride)

Friday, July 2, 2021

Carnival – 7pm – 11pm. Rides, games, food, live music, BINGO and raffles.

Trolley Service – Last call at 11pm in front of Carnival Grounds ($0.50 per ride)

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Carnival – 7pm – 11pm. Rides, games, food, live music, BINGO and raffles. 

Old-Fashioned Fireworks Display – 10pm
Fireworks sponsored by Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce, Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company & Town of Chincoteague

Trolley Service – Last call at Midnight behind Carnival Grounds on Willow Street (free service)

Friday, July 9 & Saturday, July 10, 2021

Carnival – 7pm – 11pm. Rides, games, food, live music, BINGO and raffles.

Trolley Service – Last call at 11pm in front of Carnival Grounds ($0.50 per ride)

Friday, July 16 & Saturday, July 17, 2021

Carnival – 7pm – 11pm. Rides, games, food, live music, BINGO and raffles.

Trolley Service – Last call at 11pm in front of Carnival Grounds ($0.50 per ride)

Friday, July 23, 2021

Carnival – 7pm – 11pm. Rides, games, food, live music, BINGO and raffles.

Trolley Service – Last call at 11pm in front of Carnival Grounds ($0.50 per ride)

Saturday, July 24, 2021

South Herd Roundup – approximately 4:30 p.m.

Carnival – 7pm – 11pm. Rides, games, food, live music, BINGO and raffles. Tickets for the Neptune Pony go on sale at the Information Stand! You must have a ticket and be present at the carnival bandstand at 7pm on Wednesday to win.

Trolley Service – Last call at 11pm in front of Carnival Grounds ($0.50 per ride)

This is the first major event before the exciting Pony Swim! The “Saltwater Cowboys” will ride out to the southern end of Assateague Island at about 4:30pm to herd the more than 50 ponies (adults and foals) inhabiting this part of the island into the Southern Corral. The public may come view the arrival of the ponies at the Southern Corral on Beach Road. The ponies will be here Saturday through Tuesday for photos and viewing.

See video of the 2017 South Herd Roundup:

Sunday, July 25, 2021

North Herd Roundup – approximately 6am (Note: Public is NOT permitted to north herd roundup)

The northern end of Assateague Island VA is home to the largest population of ponies and their foals, about 100 to 150 total. The “Saltwater Cowboys” herd this group into the Northern Corral. PLEASE NOTE, this is not a public event as this part of the island is not accessible. Special bus tours are normally offered on the Refuge Trek to visit the corral after the roundup. Call 757-336-3696 for reservations.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Beach Walk – North meets south when the “Saltwater Cowboys” release the Northern herd ponies and walk them along the shore of the Atlantic Ocean to join the ponies at the Southern Corral.

Ponies leave North Corral at daybreak. It is advised to be at Assateague Island National Seashore by 6am for parking purposes. Assateague Island opens at 5am. Bring your beach gear and stay for the day or walk behind the ponies to the corral and visit awhile. Bikers and hikers may access the beach via Swan Cove Trail.

Carnival – 7pm – 11pm. Rides, games, food, live music, BINGO and raffles.

Trolley Service – Last call at 11pm in front of Carnival Grounds ($0.50 per ride)

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Vet Check and Selection of Buyback Ponies – South Corral. Approximately 9am.

Carnival – 7pm – 11pm. Rides, games, food, live music, BINGO and raffles.

Trolley Service – Last call at 11pm in front of Carnival Grounds ($0.50 per ride)

We want to be sure our ponies are healthy for the big swim. The public may view the ponies in the Southern Corral during the veterinary checks. Parking is available in the lot at Woodland Trail.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Shuttles – Begin at 6am and end one hour after ponies arrive at the Carnival Grounds (free). Click here for the Shuttle Map.

Pony Swim – 7:00 am – 1:00 pm window (updated time to be announced by CVFC in July)

Carnival – 7pm – 11pm. Rides, games, food, live music, BINGO and raffles.

Trolley Service – Last call at 11pm in front of Carnival Grounds ($0.50 per ride)

At “slack tide”– The Chincoteague Ponies will swim across the Assateague Channel, led by the Saltwater Cowboys, just south of Veterans Memorial Park (7427 Memorial Park Dr,  Chincoteague Island, VA  23336) on the east side of Chincoteague Island called Pony Swim Lane. Folks wishing to view the swim from Pony Swim Lane are advised to wear appropriate attire—old clothing and closed toe shoes or muck boots—as this area is very muddy.

There is no charge by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company for parking or seeing the ponies swim. All parking at Veteran’s Memorial Park is designated for tour buses. All those seeking handicap parking and all day-trippers are encouraged to go to the Municipal Center (6150 Community Drive, Chincoteague Island, VA  23336) and catch the free shuttle. There will be a handicap accessible bus for your convenience.  Those staying on the island may catch a shuttle bus near their lodging. Shuttles begin at 6am and end one hour after the ponies arrive at the Carnival grounds.

Charter boats are also available for watching the Pony Swim. Call the chamber office at 757-336-6161 for assistance in finding available seats. Spaces fill up quickly so don’t wait until the last minute.

The first foal to come ashore will be named King or Queen Neptune and will be given away in a raffle drawing at the carnival grounds bandstand at 7pm.  Tickets are sold each night at the carnival and during the wait time for the swim. You must have a ticket and you must be present to win.

After swimming the short distance across the channel, the ponies will rest for approximately 45 minutes to an hour before “parading” to the carnival grounds on Main Street. See shuttle bus map for parade route.

The carnival will be held from 7pm – 11pm with rides, games, and lots of good food.

Note: Pets are not permitted in Memorial Park or the Carnival Grounds.

See video of the 2017 Pony Swim and Parade:

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Auction of Foals – 8am at Carnival grounds.

Trolley Service  – 7am – 1pm (free)

Carnival – 7pm – 11pm. Rides, games, food, live music, BINGO and raffles.

Trolley Service – Last call at 11pm in front of Carnival Grounds ($0.50 per ride)

The annual pony auction raises funds for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company and for the veterinary care of the ponies. The auction also serves to help control the pony population on Chincoteague Island. Foals will be auctioned at 8am on the Carnival grounds, and winners will receive certificates of purchase from the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company.

Select ponies, designated as “buy backs,” will also be auctioned, but returned to the herd to help maintain the population. Each winner of a “buy back” pony gets to name their adopted pony, and proceeds from the auction are donated to regional charity. The “buy back” auctions are typically the most popular at this event, so if you’re interested in naming a Chincoteague pony be ready to bid!

A few tips to remember:

1. Be there early if you wish to bid on a pony. The crowds are huge and you will want a space as close to the front as possible.

2. Wear a sun hat and sunscreen. Bring plenty to drink. A pencil and paper are always useful. A camera is nice. A folding chair is a great idea as bleachers will not be available due to insurance restrictions. 

3. You do not have to register for the auction. If you raise your hand during the auctioneer’s chant, you ARE MAKING A BID.

For an idea of how much ponies go for in auction, visit our Pony Auction page.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Pony Swim Back – TBD Ponies will leave the Carnival Grounds. Noon Swim back.

Trolley Service – 6am – 1pm (free)

Carnival – 7pm – 11pm. Rides, games, food, live music, BINGO and raffles.

Trolley Service – Last call at 11pm in front of Carnival Grounds ($0.50 per ride)

On Friday morning, the adult ponies make their swim back to Assateague Island where they will live…until it’s time for the Pony Swim next year!

Saturday, July 31, 2021

LAST NIGHT FOR 2021. See you next year!

Carnival – 7pm – 11pm. Rides, games, food, live music, BINGO and raffles.

Trolley Service – Last call at 11pm in front of Carnival Grounds ($0.50 per ride)

Our amazing Pony Penning week concludes with the Carnival, from 7pm – 11pm.

See more videos of past Pony Penning and Swim events on our Facebook page!

Pony Swim Videos

More media on our Facebook page
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