Dispatch, August 27, 1889


Fields -- Livestock - HorsesTourists and sportsmen -- Other recreation - FairsTourists and sportsmen -- Other recreation - Horse racingMoral -- GamblingInfrastructure -- Commercial - Race tracksWeather -- Droughts

Onancock, August 23, 1889.

The annual pony-penning on Chincoteague and Assateague islands took place yesterday and the day before in the presence of a large crowd of people. These ponies, which resemble the Shetland ponies in size and appearance, are allowed to run wild on the downs and marshes of the islands all the year. They feed and keep fat on the marsh grasses and get water from holes that are dug in the earth and filled by the rains. The only shelter they have in winter are the sand hills and pine thickets on these islands. During the month of August they are driven into pens and the young ones are lassoed, hauled out by the neck and branded with the names of the owners. In the olden times the islanders had much merry sport in chasing the ponies over the marshes in order to pen them. Now the ponies are so gentle that a few men on foot can drive up and pen a large drove of them without any trouble. Formerly every person on the islands and many from the mainland attended these pony-pennings, and a great feast was spread, in which the historic pot-pie of Chincoteague figured conspicuously. Of late years the pony-pennings have become rather tame affairs as compared with what they used to be. Pony-raising, however, is a very profitable business, and the number of these animals has increased considerably in recent years. On some of the seaside islands south of Chincoteague there are now large droves of ponies. The owners find ready sale for them, the price ranging from fifty to one hundred and twenty-five or thirty dollars, according to age and quality. They make excellent roadsters, being very tough and hardy.

The Eastern Shore Agricultural Fair will begin at the grounds near Keller next Tuesday and continue four days. For the last month extensive improvements have been going on at the grounds. The race-track has been enlarged and graded so that it is now one of the best in the State. A large grandstand, capable of seating nearly 2,000 people, has been erected in a grove over-looking the race-course, and new buildings have been put up for holding exhibits. A tournament is to be among the new features of the fair. But over-topping all the rest will be the splendid exhibition of fine horses. For many years the Eastern Shore of Virginia has been famed for its superior breeds of fast-trotting horses. Sadie Bell, who won the centennial trotting race at Philadelphia in 1876, was an Accomack horse, and since then the raising of fast trotters has been the regular business of many horse-men on the Eastern Shore. Horses from this section have won many of the trotting-races at the State fairs of Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. From Cape Charles to the Maryland line there are but few neighborhoods where a race-track is not to be found. Strange to say, there is but little betting on the races at the annual fairs in this section. Public opinion here is strongly against it. The officials of the Fair Association say the coming exhibition will be the most successful ever held in this section.

A complimentary dance was given in the Town Hall here last night by Mr. L. W. Childrey to Miss Lilian Wise Bagwell, second daughter of the late General Edmund R. Bagwell, of this town. There were present many of the leading society people of the Eastern Shore of Virginia and several from Norfolk and Portsmouth.

The weather is still hot and dry and crops suffering for rain.

Richmond, Va.
August 27, 1889