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Events Across Virginia

Chincoteague Pony Swim and Auction

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge; Credit: Sarah Stierch, Wikimedia Commons
The annual roundup of wild ponies living on the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge takes place every July on Assateague Island in an event known as the Pony Swim and Auction.

The ponies are rounded up and herded across the Assateague bay to Chincoteague, where, after resting for an hour, they are paraded to carnival grounds.

The foals are then auctioned off, and the adult ponies are returned to the wild for another year.


Chincoteague Island is located off the eastern coast of Virginia. The island is seven miles long and a half mile wide, and it is populated with a small fishing village.

Chincoteague Island is a resort island with plenty to do and see.

The island offers a variety of inns, bed and breakfasts, and rental homes.

Visitors to the island will find fishing, hiking and biking, and several museums.

Sailboat cruises are chartered around the surrounding waters. Cruisers can watch for dolphins, bald eagles, and osprey.

Assateague Island neighbors Chincoteague Island, offering more trails, canoeing, shopping, and dining.

Several events and festivals are held on these islands throughout the year, including the Oyster Festival and the Easter Decoy and Art Festival.

The most popular event on the island is the Pony Swim and Auction.

The Event

The Pony Swim and Auction has been taking place annually for more than 85 years.

The event takes place during a slack tide on the last Wednesday of every July.

Slack tide is sometime between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The wild ponies of Chincoteague live on Assateague Island throughout the year. On Pony Swim Day, they are herded across the Assateague Bay by Chincoteague’s “Saltwater Cowboys.”

The ponies come ashore on Chincoteague Island.

The first foal to come ashore is named King or Queen Neptune and is given away in a raffle drawing at the carnival grounds later that day.

Visitors flock from around the world to see the ponies swim across the channel. There is no charge for watching.

Spectators can watch this event from land or out on the water in a boat.

After arriving on shore, the ponies are given an hour to rest. They are then paraded to the carnival grounds on Main Street.

At 7 that evening, a carnival is held on Main Street with rides, foods, and other carnival attractions.

The carnival continues into Thursday when the foals are auctioned off. The auction begins at 8 a.m.

The average price of a pony is more than $1,000.

Date(s): Wednesday, Jul. 27 -
Location: Accomack County
Address: Chincoteague Island, 23336
Web site:
Latitude: 37.933179
Longitude: -75.378809
Categories > Eastern Shore > Festivals > July
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