Get a room: Bad weather doesn't slow Foxfield revelry
Fake IDs, underage drinking, and public drunkenness– the usual suspects at the Foxfield Races– were undeterred by a cold and rainy Saturday, April 28. Nor were the couple caught having sex behind a bus.
The 61 arrests this year slightly exceeded last year's 55, and most seemed to involve alcohol, except for one pot charge. An indecent exposure arrest turned out to be an incorrectly charged public urination, according to Albemarle police spokesman Darrell Byers. Urinating in public, while still illegal, will keep the offender off the sex offenders registry.
One young man drew police scrutiny from his photographic activity.
"We were called in to look at a situation of a guy talking pictures on his cellphone," says Byers. "I think he was taking pictures of people urinating." No charges there, because photographing acts that occur in a public place is not illegal, explains Byers.
And once on the road, the 37 summons issued were mostly inspection and seatbelt violations, according to a county police release.
Albemarle police teamed up with the Albemarle Sheriff's Office, Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control, and Virginia State Police to keep the Orange section, where UVA students congregate, from getting out of control.
"When you consider there's approximately 10,000 students in the Orange section, that's a small percentage," says Foxfield president Benjamin Dick of this year's arrests.
As for Dick, he's seen worse. "This is the only time I've seen students paying attention to the race," he says, attributing that to the cold and rainy weather that saw temperatures barely getting above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
"The guys in shorts and shirts getting soaked, the girls in sundresses getting soaked– my biggest concern was hypothermia," he says.
As much as some decry the drunkenness associated with the spring steeplechase event, says Dick, "We're sort of a model now among the 20 races on the steeplechase circuit."
He says that's because of the educational efforts he's put in since the ABC and Mothers Against Drunk Driving launched an offensive to dry out Foxfield about 10 years ago after boozing Wahoo antics reached a tipping point in the community.
"I went to colleges and said, this a horse race, it's not a blow-out party," says Dick.
Foxfield security works with law enforcement to maintain a safe environment, says Dick, and he lays down the law to would-be out-of-control drunks: "We expect you to be civil and compliant with the laws of the state," he declares.
So what about the copulating couple behind a bus? "This is the first I've heard of it," says Dick, who recalls an incident of a pair getting a little too cozy under a blanket near the pond about 20 years ago and drawing the attention of then-Sheriff Terry Hawkins.
"That would be the most salacious thing this year," says Albemarle police's Byers. He reports that the couple was charged– with underage possession of alcohol.