State Fair moving toward greener pastures with new partnership

DOSWELL—A new partnership between Virginia Farm Bureau Federation and Universal Fairs LLC, will help retain the agricultural presence at the State Fair of Virginia.

That’s what VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor said during a July 19 press conference at The Meadow Event Park.

“We’ve never embarked on a venture like this, but we do not take this challenge lightly and we plan to make the fair a success,” Pryor said. “This partnership will help retain, grow and build the agricultural presence at the State Fair for years to come.”

Farm Bureau and Universal Fairs LLC of Cordova, Tenn., which bought the fair and The Meadow Event Park at auction in May, have formed a partnership, Commonwealth Fairs & Events LLC, which will present this year’s fair from Sept. 28 through Oct. 7.

Todd Haymore, Virginia’s secretary of agriculture and forestry, said the partnership will ensure that “the 150-year tradition of a state fair continues, and that Virginia’s largest industry, agriculture, can continue to be woven into the fair.”

Commonwealth Fairs & Events plans to sponsor other happenings throughout the year, as well, and it hopes to revive and support efforts to build a horse museum on the fair site. The Meadow Event Park is the birthplace of racing thoroughbreds Secretariat and Riva Ridge. Retired racing thoroughbred Covert Action, a grandson of Secretariat, was on hand at the press conference.

“We want people all over the nation to recognize the importance of this property and its legacy,” Pryor said.

UF President Mark Lovell said he plans to boost equine events at The Meadow Event Park. He is considering a 2013 celebration to mark the 40th anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown win.

“We’re very excited about all the opportunities,” Lovell said. “We think you’re going to see great things over the next few years, so just hang on.”

UF’s other events include large fairs in Tennessee, Georgia and Washington state and a variety of boat and sporting shows and expos throughout the United States.

Last year’s State Fair of Virginia set an attendance record, said Floyd Thomas, vice chairman of the Caroline County Board of Supervisors. “We look forward to a great fair again this year. This is a great place, and it is the home of the greatest racehorse ever.”

Contact Greg Hicks, vice president, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1139.

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