Plan to Move Fair to Meadow Farm Progresses

Plans are being finalized to relocate the State Fair of Virginia to Meadow Farm, birthplace of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat.

A $17-million road that includes a bridge over the North Anna River would lead the way to Meadow Farm, future home to the State Fair of Virginia, should the Caroline County Board of Supervisors approve a rezoning and special use permit request Sept. 13. The Caroline County Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the applications after an Aug. 3 workshop.

Should the board of supervisors approve the applications, the project would require site-plan review approval, which is largely an administrative process.

The road improvement project consists of building two additional lanes on the south end of Route 30, which is currently an undivided two-lane highway. The road project would extend for two miles from Paramount's Kings Dominion, an amusement park located just off I-95 north of Richmond, to the entrance of the 377-acre Meadow Farm property.

Gov. Mark Warner amended the state budget to make the road improvements a priority project. The move allows it to be funded and placed on the Virginia Department of Transportation's six-year road improvement plan for the county. The road improvements should be completed in August 2007.

The State Fair of Virginia is currently held at the Richmond Raceway Complex and attracts more than 250,000 patrons. Four archeological sites have been discovered as part of the road improvement project and are being further explored by VDOT and Virginia's Department of Historic Resources. No archeological sites have been discovered on the Meadow Farm property.

"We're progressing on," said Jay Lugar, director of marketing for the State Fair of Virginia. "I think we gave over 50 proffers that went over all kinds of things to make everyone comfortable."

The proffers range from the how the facility is operated to having the trim of structures painted in the Chenery racing silk colors.

"Typically, the board doesn't get involved until the planning commission has completed their work," said Michael Finchum, planning director for Caroline County. "It has been pretty smooth. A lot of the opposition's concerns have been addressed. They tried to address the commission's concerns in regard to architecture and to keep it in an equestrian theme, consistent with the rural character of the area."

The newly created Virginia Museum of the Horse also is looking to locate on the property. Curry Roberts, president of the State Fair of Virginia, said only one other "greenfields" fairgrounds has been built in the United States in the last 30 years.

Atlantic Rural Exposition operates the fair and hopes to hold the 2007 Virginia State Fair at the farm it purchased in 2003. The Strawberry Hill Races currently held at Colonial Downs are hosted by Atlantic Rural Exposition and won't be held at Meadow Farm until 2008 to allow for a seven-furlong steeplechase course to become well established.

"We want to have the turf befitting of the horse," Lugar said in reference to Secretariat.