From a Colonial Downs release

Colonial Downs, which hosted the Dogwood Classic Races this past Saturday over its Secretariat turf course, will send that same grass oval ablaze this Friday April 11th in a controlled burn beginning at 5 PM.

For the first time ever, the annual fire event is open to the public. The Department of Forestry will oversee the burn, and Jim Vadas of Clearwater Forestry Services in West Point, Virginia will conduct the actual burn. The New Kent Fire Department will be on hand to assist as well.

“The purpose of the burn is to take dead “cover” off the grass course’s top layer in a quick and easy manner,” said Colonial’s Track Superintendent J.D. Thomas. “Within a week or ten days, the grass will grow in greener and more plush than it was the prior year.”

Colonial Downs has the widest turf course in the country at 180 feet, and is 1 1/8 miles in circumference (from the outermost rail position). During its annual thoroughbred race season, close to 90% of the track’s horse races are conducted on grass versus just 10% over the dirt track.

To help enhance the fire theme, magician/fire juggler Jonathan Austin will perform trackside along with a couple fire eaters, and a plated pig dinner will be available. The main concession stand and cocktail lounge will both be open. Attendees are encouraged to bring a camera.

Gates open at 4 PM and festivities will continue thru 8 PM. Admission is $2 and kids 12 & under are free. For more information, visit or call 804-966-7223.