Nearly 20,000 Attend 36th Annual Foxfield Spring Races - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Nearly 20,000 Attend 36th Annual Foxfield Spring Races

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Horses galloped around the Foxfield track for a series of back-to-back races Saturday afternoon as thousands of tailgaters celebrated reunions and a study break on the infield.

Close to 20,000 people attended the 36th annual Foxfield Spring Races. Police and emergency personnel were on patrol throughout the day to help keep the party from getting out of control.

The annual tradition that's popular with University of Virginia students and alumni is centered on hundreds of tailgate plots.

“I actually graduated a couple years ago and we came back down just because we love it so much,” said Louis DiValentin.

“It's almost one last hurrah where you get to be around and kind of have one last celebration before it's finals time,” said Tyler Wilkinson, a fourth-year at UVA.

More than 230 Albemarle County police and emergency crews were hard at work to make sure the crowd stayed safe. They operated out of three command centers and teamed up to patrol the track on foot, bike, and small vehicles.

“If we see someone who is so intoxicated that they might not be able to make it home safe, where they might be in danger themselves, then that's something officers are looking for,” said Albemarle County Police spokesperson Carter Johnson.

The student-run Alcohol Drug Abuse Prevention Team (ADAPT) offered free water, food and sunscreen to help their peers.

“We encourage students to always make a plan to get home safely, and to be safe during the day but this is a good way to provide a ‘Plan B’ to students,” said Margaret Lowe, ADAPT co-chair. “It's very important that we promote student safety.”

Spectators agree that safety is crucial to having a fun and memorable Foxfield experience.

“I want to be able to remember what happens and the people I see and the conversations I have,” DiValentin said.

“That's probably the most important part - is being around people you trust and you know,” said Wilkinson.

Police arrested 33 people last year, mostly for public intoxication charges.

Albemarle County Police say 22 people were arrested, some on multiple charges. The majority of the arrest were for alcohol-related offenses. There were four drug arrests, two for cocaine and two for marijuana. One person was arrested for inciting a riot, a felony offense. Police note the riot did not actually occur, but the individual arrested was encouraging others to engage in behavior that could have incited a riot. His language and conduct were a concern for law enforcement.

If someone was arrested, they were taken to an area with a video link to the magistrate's office and transported to the regional jail

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