The Secretariat Birthday Party Goes On!

Some of you may have heard the sad news that The Meadow, which was owned by the State Fair of Virginia, has been closed to the public.  The Fair (a private, not for profit organization) was forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy on March 8 when the bank did not accept its plan to reorganize. 

This was heart-breaking news for Virginians who grew up going to the Fair and especially for those of us who had enjoyed a long association with its staff.  That association had become even more enjoyable in recent years as we worked together on  the annual Secretariat birthday party, which the Fair hosted at The Meadow,  and the popular  “Secretariat’s Meadow Tours” for public and private groups. We even announced our “Secretariat’s Meadow” book there in 2010.  It was very sad to see our friends lose their jobs.

 Our book team  did not want these circumstances to force the cancellation of the annual Secretariat’s Birthday celebration, planned for Saturday March 31. So we took this on as a volunteer effort  and are happy to say that Randolph-Macon College in nearby Ashland will host the event on March 31 in Andrews Hall from 1 – 5 pm. There are longstanding ties with the college as Christopher Chenery, who founded The Meadow in 1936 as a Thoroughbred farm, attended school there, along with two of his brothers.  Last year, Randolph-Macon awarded Penny Chenery an Honorary Doctor of  Laws degree.

 Yes, the birthday  program is scaled back but we still have fans coming from Texas, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina and Delaware!  That speaks volumes about what this magnificent horse means to people across the country!

Here’s a brief outline of the program:

  •  1:00 pm. – Welcome and Presentation on the history of The Meadow,  Secretariat and Riva Ridge by Kate Chenery Tweedy and Leeanne Meadows Ladin, co-authors of “Secretariat’s Meadow, The Land, The Family, The Legend”
  • Meeting former Meadow grooms and jockeys and seeing Riva’s first training saddle
  • Discussion of possible historical designation options for important sites at The Meadow
  • Continuous showing of Secretariat’s and Riva’s most famous races
  • Book signings and sale of Secretariat items
  • Secretariat and Riva cake
  • 3:00 p.m.  – Repeat presentation by authors 
  • 5:00  p.m. – EVENT CONCLUDES

Tickets are $5 at the door and advance registration is required.  Because seating is limited, we ask that you indicate whether you will attend the 1:00 pm or 3:00 pm presentation. Go to our website for more info and to register.

As for The Meadow, we will keep our readers posted on future developments here, on our website and our Facebook page. 

In any event, we sincerely hope that next year in 2013, we will be back at The Meadow to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown!

by Leeanne Meadows Ladin

co-author of “Secretariat’s Meadow”

copyright 2012

6 thoughts on “The Secretariat Birthday Party Goes On!

  1. I have loved coming to The Meadow Event Park for the Secretariat Celebrations the past two years – 2010 and 2011 from Upstate New York. These were truly special events that I treasure; especially last year when Mrs. Penny Chenery was there for the celebration. I love Secretariat and everything he stood for. I look forward to 2013 to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of his Triple Crown Win. Best wishes and congratulations on this year’s celebration of Secretariat at Mr. Chenery’s college in Ashland, Virginia. I am optimistic that The Meadow will once again open which would mean a lot to people from Virginia, as well as many people living in other states. Good luck to State of Virginia Fair and to the great state of Virginia. Let’s preserve this historic landmark.

    • Thank you for your kind remarks and for coming to the previous birthday events.We remain hopeful about The Meadow’s future and hope to see all the Secretariat fans there in 2013!

      • Thank you for your reply. I am willing to do anything I can to save The Meadow. Please keep us posted as to what can be done to save The Meadow. It is a historical site and should be preserved.

  2. I was so sad to hear about the Meadow. Maybe we should start a petition to stop the closing. They can be very beneficial. it is so awful to see a gorgeous place like that maybe turned into a housing development,or commercial property. Sounds like the bank has a agenda. And Ms. Chenery,and her father worked so hard to make it what it was. I truly wish it could be stopped. I will be anxiously waiting to hear more about the Meadow.

    Sharon Jones

    • Sharon, thank you for writing. The next step in the process is the sale of The Meadow by a court-appointed trustee for the bank. We are very hopeful that someone who wants to continue to use the land for its intended purpose as a state fairgrounds/ agricultural event park will come forward. It also has a large equine complex which hosted many horse shows and events and of course highlighted the equine legacy of the land. We don’t believe The Meadow can be turned into a housing development or shopping mall because of the zoning restrictions in place and because so many people revere the land as Secretariat’s birthplace. We will keep you posted!

  3. The Meadow was modeled after a horse farm in the 1800’s during a time that thoroughbred horse racing had its beginnings in Virginia. The Hancock family started raising thoroughbreds not far from Doswell. It was later that the Hancock thoroughbred enterprise moved to Kentucky. The Meadow was a piece of history even before Secretariat’s time. It is an example of how a horse farm looked in the 1800’s. The barns, Secretariat’s shed have been beautifully restored. These are a fine example of agricultural architecture in the 1800’s. The elms are the same as they were then. One feels as if in another time when walking the land at the Meadow. I would think that the State of Virginia would want to promote such a piece of history. Where else can you go and view a property reminiscent of how horse farms looked in the 1800’s. Why not lobby the Governor of Virginia himself. There may be something that the Virginia Legislature can do to save the Meadow. It is a great landmark preserving important part of Virginia’s history. State of Virginia officials attended the first Secretariat’s Birthday Celebration. They know what a gem the Meadow is. They need to be remined that it all started with the land. Virginia became a great state because of the land. The Meadow exemplifies that and needs to be saved! Is there anything resembling the “emminent domain” statue where state and or local governments can offer to purchase land and property and the owners cannot refused to sell? Could this be done to save the Meadow for the people of Virginia, as well as, rest of America.

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