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Yeas for Neighs

Chincoteague pony becomes official state pony of Virginia

May 2023


The Chincoteague pony has finally been named the State Pony of the commonwealth of Virginia. Senators, delegates and the governor of Virginia made it official on March 27.

The Chincoteague wild ponies — a tourist attraction for decades — are also an integral component of the economic stability of Chincoteague Island, Va.

Owned and managed by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company since 1925, with a grazing permit from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for 150 adult ponies, these ponies are as much a part of Chincoteague life as the island’s human residents.

An annual roundup, swim and auction are held the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July to raise funds for the self-sustaining fire company and to control the herd’s size. This year will mark the 98th year of the fire company’s Pony Penning, which brings visitors from around the globe to witness the unique event.

In 1947, Chincoteague Island earned a place in history and was “put on the map” when Marguerite Henry, an award-winning children’s author, visited Chincoteague and fell in love with the wild Chincoteague ponies. Thousands of school children, parents and grandparents who have read the Newbery Honor classic, “Misty of Chincoteague,” make the pilgrimage annually to this secluded little island at the northeast tip of Virginia to see where the legendary literary pony lived. Visiting this storybook town is a bucket-list item satisfied only by immersing oneself in the story’s history at the Museum of Chincoteague Island, seeing her iconic hoofprints in front of Island Theatre where the movie, “Misty,” premiered in 1961, taking a photo in front of the Misty statue on Main Street, or staying in the Marguerite Henry room of Miss Molly’s Inn.

In celebration of the official naming honor, the Virginia Tourism Corporation has approved a “Virginia is for Pony Lovers” sub-brand for merchandising.

For more information, visit chincoteaguechamber.com.