VA Lawmakers Pass Bill Making Chincoteague Pony the Official State Pony
Lawmakers in Virginia have designated the Chincoteague Pony as the Official State Pony for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Senate Bill 14-78 was introduced by Senator Lynwood Lewis and House Bill 19-51 was introduced by Delegate Rob Bloxom. The legislation was passed during the 2023 General Assembly session and the bill signed by Governor Glenn Youngkin last week. Joining the Virginia is for Lovers brand – the sub-brand “Virginia is for Pony Lovers” which was requested by the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce.
Additional information from the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce:
The Chincoteague ponies are an integral component of the economic stability of Chincoteague Island, Virginia. Owned and managed by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company since 1925, with a grazing permit from US Fish & Wildlife Service for 150 adult ponies, these ponies are as much a part of Chincoteague life as the human residents themselves. An annual roundup, swim and auction is held the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July to raise funds for the self-sustaining fire company and to control the size of the herd. This year will mark the 98th year of Pony Penning, which brings visitors from around the globe to witness an event like no other!
In 1947, Chincoteague Island earned a place in history and “on the map” when Marguerite Henry, 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 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 this honor, Virginia Tourism Corporation has approved the “Virginia is for Pony Lovers” sub-brand requested by the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce. T-shirts are available in the chamber office.