The Chincoteague Fireman’s Carnival – alive with rides, games, raffles, and lots of good food – opens each night at 7 pm during the 2014 Chincoteague Pony Swim week and serves as something like a base of operations for much of the process.
July 26 – 27 – The Pony Round-Up
The week of Chincoteague Pony Penning begins with the “Saltwater Cowboys” rounding up the 150 or so wild ponies living on Assateague Island into two corrals – one on the southern end and one on the north. Only the southern corral, located on Assateague Island, just off the road that leads to the beach, is open to public view at this time.
July 28, 2014 – The Beach Walk
At day break, Monday, the Saltwater Cowboys will herd the ponies from the northern corral south, along the beach to join with the ponies waiting in the southern corral. You are welcome to witness this famous trek if you’re up and on Assateague Beach by 6 am.
July 30, 2014 – Pony Swim and Parade to the Carnival Grounds
Now for the most famous part: come Wednesday, the Saltwater Cowboys will swim the ponies from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island during “slack tide” – that time between tides when there is little to no current in the waters between the islands, thus making the journey less harrowing for the herd. Though the swim usually occurs between 7am and 1pm, slack tide occurs at different times each day and this year’s time will be announced beforehand at the carnival.
The first foal to reach ashore will be named King or Queen Neptune and will thereafter be given away to some, lucky raffle winner at the carnival later that day. Raffle tickets for this pony can be purchased both at the carnival and in the crowd at Memorial Park prior to the swim.
After the swim, the ponies get a 45 minute rest, then are herded in a “parade” down Main Street to the carnival grounds.
Finding a vantage point to view the swim can be a challenge and securing a spot early on is key – so make this decision a priority and well before the 30th! If you’re planning on watching the swim from a Charter Boat, you’ll want to reserve those seats months in advance!
July 31, 2014 – The Pony Auction
Of course, the purpose of the pony swim is to get the ponies from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island for auction. The auction helps keep the herd a sustainable size and raises money for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, which uses some of the proceeds to provide veterinary services to the island ponies throughout the year. The auction begins at 8 am.
August 1, 2014 – The Pony Swim back to Assateague Island
And then it’s another slack tide crossing to Assateague Island on Friday, where the remaining, adult ponies will live, wild, for another year.
Lodging for the 2014 Chincoteague Pony Swim
As of this writing, there are still rooms available at Island Manor Inn and at our sister bed and breakfast, Miss Molly’s, for the 2014 Chincoteague Pony Swim week – but they’re already beginning to go so don’t wait too long!