Foxfield Races clamp down on drinking

Students planning to attend the Foxfield Races this year should expect harsher consequences for alcohol-related offenses than those from prior years.

Authorities plan to treat Foxfield-related cases this year in exactly the same manner as offenses committed any other day of the year, Albemarle County Commonwealth Attorney Denise Lunsford said.

"What in the past has been sometimes loosely referred to as 'the Foxfields discount' will not be the case anymore," Lunsford said.

To support this effort, some policies have changed, primarily to cut down on excessive alcohol consumption, Foxfield Races Marketing Director Anne Susen said.

For this year's races, all alcohol brought into the event must be contained within a 30-by-17-by-18-inch, "regular-sized" cooler. There will be a limit of one cooler per person, Susen said, noting this is a change from last year to deter University students with "a three-gallon bottle of bourbon under each arm" from attending the races.

"We are trying to limit the amount of alcohol coming into the student section," Susen said.

Alcohol carried outside of coolers will be confiscated, and larger coolers will not be allowed onto race grounds.

"Anything oversized will be locked on the bus," Susen said, adding that students who violate the policies will be barred from the event for a period of three years.

The change in the race's alcohol-carrying policy is one of many attempts over the past few years to curb excessive drinking at the event, she said.

Susen said race officials this year also prohibited implements that heighten alcohol consumption, such as ice channels, liquor luges and beer bongs.

The police presence at the upcoming event, meanwhile, will match last year's, with more than 200 on-site officers, Albemarle Police Lieut. Ernest Allen said. Officers will include representatives of the Virginia State Police, Albemarle County Police Department, Albemarle County Sheriff's Office, City of Charlottesville Police Department, Virginia Alcohol and Beverage Control and University Police. As in past years, there will also be three magistrates available on site, one in person and two by video connection, allowing policy violators to appear before a court official before leaving the race's grounds.

Student groups and the commonwealth attorney's office also already have plans in place to deal with potential incidents involving excessive drinking.

The students from the University Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team will be manning a tent with free water, sunscreen and food, said Susan Bruce, director of the Center for Alcohol and Substance Education. Lunsford also said the Albemarle Commonwealth Attorney's office has already scheduled a date for offenders' initial appearance in court in preparation for the races, which are to begin at 1 p.m. May 9.

related stories