Police, Emergency Crews Prepare for Foxfield Races - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Police, Emergency Crews Prepare for Foxfield Races

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Police and emergency crews are preparing for tens of thousands of partiers to pack an Albemarle County horse track this weekend at the Foxfield Spring Races.

The races are expected to draw 20,000 people. The event is popular with University of Virginia students and young alumni.

Organizers are urging race day spectators and anyone driving around town to start planning now.

The stakes are set for tailgate plots, 200 portable toilets stand in place. The Foxfield track is getting ready for Saturday's spring races.

“Everything has to be brought in at the last second - the sound system, the tents, the jumps,” said Patrick Butterfield, director of the races.

A crowd of 20,000 is expected to cover the Albemarle County track. A Foxfield races strategy group is finalizing plans to keep the party from getting out of control.

“Fortunately, most of the people who are involved have been here before,” Butterfield said.

The Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad will handle health emergencies with 40 crew members and four ambulances. Albemarle County police will lead security.

“There will be officers and volunteers and people all throughout the facility both on bike and patrols and patrolling the streets as well, making sure everyone arrives safely to and from the event,” said Carter Johnson, spokesperson for the Albemarle County Police Department.

Police arrested 33 partiers last year, mostly on alcohol and drug charges.

“We don't want to see people who are a danger to themselves or someone else at the event,” Johnson said.

Third-year UVA student Hawa Ahmed handed out free T-shirts Tuesday to students who pledge to stay sober at Foxfield.

“If you don't take those pre-measures to be safe, it can be a potentially really dangerous day,” Ahmed said.

The student-run "Alcohol Drug Abuse Prevention Team" will post up around the track Saturday to help their classmates who may have a little too much fun.

“We often find they'll come to us first, which is nice to know they see us as a resource and we can point them in the right direction,” Ahmed said.

Communication should be easier this year. Foxfield brought in a Verizon mobile cell tower.

“It's quite difficult to call out with 20,000 people trying to call out at the same time. So, this will help with that,” Butterfield said.

Months of planning aim to make this springtime tradition the safest out of the gate.

“Have a good time, but don't have too good a time. Stay safe, and enjoy the races,” Butterfield said.

The university is hosting a Foxfield education forum Wednesday night for students.

Gates open Saturday at 9 a.m. with the last race at 4 p.m. If you're not going to Foxfield, police urge you to avoid Barracks, Garth, and Free Union roads due to heavy traffic.

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