“Its history is one of reclamation and renewal. The land seems to possess deep within its fertile soil a phoenix-like spirit that enables it to rise back to glory when it has fallen.”
The State Fair of Virginia, Since 1854, More than a Midway
Long before it had a name, the open plain on the North Anna River was hunting and foraging ground for Virginia’s indigenous peoples. In the early 1700s, it was part of the 10,000-acre North Wales Plantation in newly formed Caroline County, and in the early 1800s it became the 4,000-acre self-sustaining farm home of a family that set down roots for 100 years.
While no Civil War battles were fought on Meadow land, they came too close for the occupants’ comfort, and the farm was looted by troops seeking food and supplies. The war years were not kind to communities surrounding Richmond, but in the hands of the Chenery family, The Meadow began a climb to prosperity and, ultimately, acclaim as a Thoroughbred farm and home of champion racehorses.
The Meadow was home to Riva Ridge, who won the 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, and the birthplace of Secretariat, who took the racing world by storm a year later.
Most of the property was divided into smaller parcels in 1978, and the remainder of the farm and homestead changed hands several times over the next three decades. In 2003 it was purchased by the nonprofit State Fair of Virginia, which moved the fair to Caroline in 2009.
By 2011, the $81 million project at The Meadow Event Park featured redevelopment of existing structures as well as construction of new facilities and infrastructure. That work has created a wealth of opportunities, with the enthusiastic support of Caroline County.
Since mid-2012, The Meadow Event Park and the State Fair of Virginia have been operated by Commonwealth Fairs and Events, LLC, which is committed to preserving, developing and showcasing this remarkable venue.