(Delmarvanow.com) -- Chincoteague’s iconic Pony Penning is up for another accolade.
The annual summer event that draws thousands to the island has been named a finalist in the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association’s 2017 VRLTA Annual Ordinary Awards.
The winners of the peer-nominated awards program will be announced Monday, Oct. 2, in Richmond, the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce said in a news release.
The Chamber said it nominated the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company's Pony Penning Event for the Attraction of the Year Ordinary Award — and it has been chosen as one of two finalists in the category.
Tourism industry veterans from around the state reviewed the nominations, and scored each based on extraordinary contributions to Virginia's hospitality and travel industry.
"We are ecstatic to be honoring and recognizing these outstanding hospitality and travel professionals," said Eric Terry, president of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association. "Each and every one has provided extraordinary service to the industry and their guests."
A pony swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague and back and an accompanying auction to raise funds for the volunteer fire company are the highlights of Pony Penning, held each year in July.
The 92nd Pony Penning this year garnered $210,000 for the 62 Chincoteague foals auctioned, smashing the previous record of $178,300.
Chincoteague ponies are also a major driver of tourism growth on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, which was ranked the fastest-growing tourism region in the state for three of the last four years.
The event was made famous by Marguerite Henry's classic novel, “Misty of Chincoteague” in 1947, followed by a Hollywood movie in 1961.
"The event draws visitors to our small serene fishing village ... and provides a significant economic impact to the tourism industry of the island, the Eastern Shore and beyond," according to the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce nomination application.
Preparations are already underway for the 93rd annual Pony Swim & Auction in 2018, and to make your plans to attend, click here.