Chincoteague Pony Swim, Auction and Carnival
Assateague Island, which spans the Maryland-Virginia border, is famous for its small, sturdy breed of wild ponies. Their true origin is unknown, but romantic legend claims they are descendents of a cargo of wild mustangs carried by a Spanish galleon that sunk off the coast. Today, the Virginia herd is owned by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company. Each summer, they are rounded up by the firemen and swim the Assateague Channel to Chincoteague, where they are penned and examined by veterinarians. They are then herded through town to a corral at the carnival, and some foals and yearlings are auctioned off the next day. The first colt to reach the shore is given away to a lucky carnival-goer. After a day's rest, the remaining ponies make the swim back home. Boats can be chartered for an up-close view of the swim, and free shuttle service is provided from the swim site to the carnival grounds. Thousands visit Chincoteague each year for the swim, which has been a tradition since the early 1920s.
Venue: Chincoteague Memorial Park and carnival grounds on Main Street
Date: 27 July 2011