Blue Ridge Hunt Invites All on March 30 for Point-to-Point Races and Family Fun

By Rebecca Maynard

Everyone in the community is invited on Saturday, March 30 to enjoy the running of the Blue Ridge Hunt’s 75th annual point-to-point races, held at Woodley Farm.

The historic 383-acre property is located at 490 Woodley Lane, two and a half miles south of Berryville. It was originally bought by Daniel Sowers in the 1830s from George Washington’s cousin and has been used for fox hunting ever since. One of the unique things about the property is that it has one of the only point-to-point courses in Virginia that allows spectators to see the entire course at one time.

As Norm Fine notes in his history, today’s followers of the Blue Ridge hounds ride over the same hills and fields and along the same twists and turns of the Shenandoah River as did George Washington nearly 300 years ago when he followed the hounds of his employer and friend Thomas, the sixth Lord Fairfax. At 16, Washington had come to Fairfax’s Greenway Court in what is now White Post, to help survey Fairfax’s holdings. The two pursued the native gray fox behind hounds that Fairfax had sent over from England prior to his arrival.

Fine explains that fox hunting in Virginia flourished privately until the massive changes after the Civil War set the stage for the formation of organized hunts and subscription packs. The period following the war saw a number of Englishmen moving to Virginia, many of whom were fox hunters in their native England. One such Englishman, Archibald Bevan, helped to organize the Blue Ridge Hunt in 1888, and he served as its first Master.

A hundred thirty-six years later, Jeffrey LeHew, Joint Master of the Blue Ridge Hunt and chairman of the races, says that this year is a special one.

“It’s our 75th year at Woodley Farm, which is a big deal for us, and we’ve had races for all these years,” LeHew said. “We have the same things we’ve always had — a parade of fox hounds, a parade of beagles, a kids’ stick horse race, car show, and carriage parade. What we’re having this year is special, and something we’ve never had before. We’re fortunate enough to have the National Steeplechase Association sanction two of our races, and with the help of the Virginia Equine Alliance sponsorship, those two races will have purses of $15,000 each. Because of the purses, we hope they will bring in some really nice racehorses from the East Coast.”

Attendees are welcome to bring picnic lunches to enjoy on the general admission hillside, and food vendors will also be on site, along with a “vendor village” with crafters and other items for sale. There will also be an appearance by the
Easter Bunny.

“We moved our date forward two weeks to March 30, but another exciting thing is we moved it from Sunday to Saturday, and that is a big deal,” LeHew said, explaining that many people had expressed a preference for Saturday in order to be able to picnic and enjoy the day without being concerned with work or school the next day.

General admission is $30 for a carload ahead of time and $40 at the gate, and reservations can be made online at or by phone at 540-931-1919. LeHew said there is a new, easy to use online ticketing option this year that allows people to view a chart and reserve parking spaces.

“We hope that many in the community will come out and that we’ll get a big crowd, even if they don’t like horse racing, because there are so many other things to do,” LeHew said.