When word came that the Beebe Ranch, longtime home to “Misty of Chincoteague,” might be lost to development, members of the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, which owns and manages the feral ponies on the Virginia side of Assateague Island, were eager to help the Museum of Chincoteague Island save the beloved site. However, the fire company’s big annual fundraiser, its famous carnival and Pony Penning Day auction, fell after the museum’s fundraising deadline. So company members devised a special online auction of a select Chincoteague pony foal to benefit the museum’s cause.
When the virtual gavel came down Wednesday, rights to the name and registration of that chosen foal were awarded to a group calling itself the Buyback Friends of the Wild Chincoteague Pony Herds. This band of dedicated island pony fans raised a “whopping” $40,500 to secure Lot #29 as a tax-deductible donation to the Museum of Chincoteague Island.
Even though the bay pinto filly, which they have named “Beebe’s Perfect Storm,” will be returned to her island herd under the terms of the auction and will remain the property of the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, both the winning bidders and the museum are reportedly “ecstatic.” The donation will help the museum meet its fundraising goal to purchase the Beebe family’s local ranch, which it already has under contract. The property holds special meaning for many as the longtime island home of Misty of Chincoteague, a pony made famous by Marguerite Henry’s classic 1947 book of the same name. Generations of Misty’s descendants have also called the ranch home.
Museum officials were quick to respond to the auction outcome on the fire company’s Facebook page: “Words can not describe that gratitude the Museum of Chincoteague Island is feeling right now. Thank you to the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company and to every single person who contributed to this auction. We are thrilled to be part of such an amazing community!!!”
Darcy Cole, who chronicles the everyday lives of the island ponies through DSC Photography, posted the following after-auction update on Facebook:
“While we did not become an official group until this year, we actually started coming together to get buybacks in 2017. ‘Storm’ joins our list of other buybacks including Mary Read, Bay Dream, Skeeter, Dexie, Sissy, Norm, Indy, Journey, Corrie, Jazzie, Bella and Jackpot.
“Her naming is to honor the Beebe family, Cindy Faith, the Museum of Chincoteague, Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company and each and every person who contributed to Save the Beebe Ranch!
‘A Perfect Storm’
“We are honoring the Beebe family for giving the Museum of Chincoteague the time they need to raise the money to buy the property rather than taking the easy path and selling to a developer,” Cole’s post continues. “We are honoring Cindy Faith for her dedication to preserving and sharing the history of Chincoteague, not just in this endeavor, but for many years before this, too. We are honoring the Museum of Chincoteague for taking on what seemed like an insurmountable goal in the beginning! We are honoring Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company for coming up with the idea for the online auction and then donating this perfect foal to be auctioned to benefit Save the Beebe Ranch!
“And last but not least, we are honoring every single person who contributed to Save the Beebe Ranch! It has truly been a perfect storm of elements coming together. And Hurricane is in this foal’s family tree! Please join us in welcoming Beebe’s Perfect Storm to the herd.”
The aptly named buyback filly was first spotted on the island on April 24. According to the CVFC, she is out of Bayside Angel and by Don Leonard Stud II. “This foal’s excellent conformation and color will make her a great addition to the herd,” fire company officials noted in a June 4 post on social media.
Landing page image source: Facebook page of Darcy Cole of DSC Photography.