Long before Thoroughbred horses galloped across its wide expanse, The Meadow served as hunting grounds for the Youngtamund and Pamunkey tribes of the area. Its name dates back to a 1674 description of the land as ‘ye Great Meadow on the freshies of the Pamonkey” (the North Anna River). In the 1700s, the land formed part of the 10,000-acre North Wales Plantation in Caroline County. In 1805, Dr. Charles D. Morris purchased 4,000 acres, and The Meadow became a place in its own right and his family’s home for the next 100 years.
While no Civil War battles were fought on Meadow land, its occupants could hear the cannon fire across the river. Lean times followed the war, and in the early 1900s the beloved farm was sold. But in 1936, Christopher T. Chenery, a Morris descendant, bought back The Meadow and transformed the dilapidated property into one of the most renowned Thoroughbred farms of its time.
His daughter Penny Chenery continued his work, achieving unprecedented success. Meadow Stable’s Riva Ridge won the 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. In 1973, Secretariat became the first horse in 25 years to win the Triple Crown and the only champion to break all three track records, which still stand today.
In 1978, The Meadow was sold for the last time. Most of the property was divided into smaller parcels, and the remainder of the farm changed hands often over the years. In 2003, the State Fair of Virginia purchased The Meadow Event Park and began construction of new facilities. It also preserved many of the existing structures, such as the historic stables. In 2009, the newly-relocated State Fair took place at The Meadow, enthusiastically supported by Caroline County.
Today, the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, the largest agricultural advocacy organization in the state, owns and operates The Meadow Event Park and the State Fair of Virginia. Under the Farm Bureau’s careful stewardship, this timeless land is vibrant with new activity, while its historic legacy remains secure.