RIR President offers to be host site for a State Fair once again

Posted at 2:42 PM, Mar 07, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-10 14:43:19-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)-- The Richmond International Raceway, home of the Virginia State Fair prior to its move to the Meadow Event Park in Caroline, has offered once again to host the event, should they be approached by a promoter.

RIR spokesman Rich Denzler confirms to CBS 6 that RIR President Dennis Bickmeier has said recently that he'd be open to welcoming the State Fair back to RIR, if necessary.

The State Fair is currently in a state of flux following this week's bankruptcy proceedings. RIR officials were quick to clarify that they have no interest in putting on their own fair, just serving as the host site.

You can read our previous coverage below.


As of today the State Fair of Virginia, and several events associated with the Meadow Event Park have come to and end.

In Richmond District Court today, the State Fair of Virginia Inc. (SFVA), a non-profit entity, converted its bankruptcy from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.

The intent was to renegotiate with the lender to purchase the 360-acre Meadow Event Park in Doswell.

On Monday, the lender group rejected SFVA’s offer, and did not produce a counter offer. As a result SFVA was forced into Chapter 7.

As a result of this action, SFVA will no longer produce their events, which includes the Strawberry Hill Races, the State Fair of Virginia and the Meadow Highland Games & Celtic Festival. Additionally the privately scheduled events at The Meadow Event Park will not be able to take place.

Darrell Wood, with Colonial Downs racetrack said that the Strawberry Hill races will continue, and are scheduled for June 2.

"All rail space and ticket purchases for the 2012 Strawberry Hill Races will now take place through Colonial Downs via the previously announced timeline," said an announcement on the site."

Could the other events all rise again?

The press release shows the SFVA has requested that the rights to their trademark events be released. This would allow potential investors to continue to produce such events, if funding and a venue were in place.

The full calendar of events at Meadow Event Farm have been cancelled, including Secretariats birthday celebration on March 31.

The severance packages for the remaining 17 SFVA staff members have been denied. All staff have been removed from payroll and benefit plans.

For decades, since 1989, the SFVA scholarship program funded different components of children’s education, awarding more than 2,439 scholarships.

Parents voiced concerned to CBS 6 that the scholarship money would be taken in the bankruptcy. In a press release, SFVA said it was their understanding that these funds will be administered after the money is transferred to the Virginia Tech foundation.

Our Tracy Sears spoke with a lawyer for the main creditor, Arbor One, who said that the State Fair does not have enough money to cover the scholarships it awarded. The lawyer said that they will be heading to court to get bonds authorized so that Arbor One can help out by covering the promised scholarships.

The organization hit hard times, along with much of the nation, with the stock market decline in late 2008.


For several years SFVA tried to renegotiate its debt before turning to bankruptcy as an option.

The group owed $75 million in secured debt, mainly principal and interest on the massive Meadow Event Park in Caroline County, near Kings Dominion.

Additionally, court documents showed that SFVA owed creditors over $150 million total—secured and non-secured debt.

The SFVA sold their interest in the Richmond Raceway Complex in 2008, in order to finance Meadow Event Park.

In court paper filed in late January 2012, the state fair reported a net loss of half million in a month.

The secured creditors that made up the lender group are: United States Department of Agriculture, Arbor One of Conway, SC; Regions Bank of Greenville, SC; Farm Credit Bank of Texas of Austin, TX; AgTexas of Lubbock, TX; Farm Credit Services of Grand Forks of Grand Forks, ND; Capital Farm Credit of Bryan, TX; AgStar Financial Services of Mankato, MN; Farm Credit Services of Mid-America of Louisville, KY; Ag Credit of Fostoria, OH; Carolina Farm Credit of Hendersonville, NC; Valley Farm Credit of Winchester, VA; Farm Credit of the Virginias of Staunton, VA; Farm Credit of Southwest Florida of Arcadia, FL; Southwest Georgia of Bainbridge, GA; and AgFirst Farm Credit Bank of Columbia, SC.

This is a breaking news story and we will have more details as it develops, both online and CBS 6.