Horse and dog enthusiasts can save money by purchasing advance online tickets to the annual Virginia Horse Festival.
This year’s event will be held May 3-5 at The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County and will coincide with the May 4 running of the Kentucky Derby.
Early bird tickets are on sale now, and through March 31 guests can buy an adult ticket for just $10, which is $5 off the gate admission price. From April 1 through May 2 at 11:59 p.m., advance adult tickets are $12, which saves $3 off gate pricing.
Children 12 and under will be admitted free, but a ticket is still required. These can be added to online carts or obtained at ticket booths during the event.
A three-day festival pass is available online as well, and through May 1 at 11:59 p.m. the pass is just $20. After that, festival passes good for all three days can be purchased during the event for $25.
To mark Derby Day, a free showing of the Kentucky Derby will be held Saturday in the Farm Bureau Center exhibit hall. Special activities for families to enjoy will take place at that time as well.
There also will be a special private viewing of the race during a ticketed Derby Day Party. The celebration will be held Saturday from 4-7 p.m. in Meadow Hall. Tickets to the event include mint julep tours of the historic house and barns; a visit with Kate Chenery Tweedy of the family who owned Secretariat; a cocktail party on the veranda; and a Derby hat contest emceed by local radio and television personality Bill Bevins.
Advance Derby Day Party tickets are $50 and can be purchased online through April 30 at 11:59 p.m. Tickets for the private Derby party that also include admission to the festival are $60 in advance through April 30.
The festival will host a wide variety of equine clinics, demonstrations and competitions. The JTO Trail Challenge will be open to competitors from across the state. Participants in this trail obstacle course will compete on Friday and Saturday, and the finale will be held Sunday.
Entertainment this year includes the Canine Stars, an international dog show that features rescue dogs. One of the group’s dogs and its trainer, Sara Carson and Hero, made it to the finals of America’s Got Talent in 2017. Canine Stars dogs perform agility demonstrations, disc tricks and freestyle dancing and will give three performances each day.
Featured entertainment also includes the Aurora equestrian circus of Legacy Family Entertainment. The three daily performances will feature trick riding, singers, dancers, comedy and aerialists.