Polo on the Green6/29/2016
Let’s be honest here. Polo is a word that — at least in the prevailing sporting circles in the U.S. — summons thoughts of a Ralph Lauren line of clothing more than it does an actual sport. That’s just the way it is. We are not a country of polo-ites.
But that’s not to say that polo is by any means inferior to our stick-and-ball sports, auto racing and otherwise. In actuality, the grace with which polo is played — upon some of the most athletic, well-trained horses (or “mounts” as they are referred as) one will ever see — is a sight to behold.
For the uninitiated, polo is a team sport played on horseback — four riders and their mounts on each side — and the objective is to score goals against an opposing team.
Easy enough, right? Players score by getting a small white plastic or wooden ball into the opposing team’s goal using a long-handled mallet. Goals, balls, mallets — we can get into that. Sure, the sport has a decidedly European flavor to it, but it shares enough commonalities with the popular sports of today to give it a chance to win the hearts and souls of new fans. Getting them there, then, is the key.
For the past 20 years, Variety – the Children’s Charity, has been doing its part in winning converts. Once again this summer, the organization will host the annual Polo on the Green weekend July 15-16 at Powder River Ranch at Powder River Ranch, 4504 Adams St. in Cumming.
Event chairperson Kolby Jones agreed that polo is a sport that isn’t widely known in the United States, but when people take the time to attend the event in person, that’s when opinions change.
“We’ve designed this to be a lot of fun,” he said. “Yes, there is some great polo being played, and this is one of the largest Governors Cup-sanctioned events in the Midwest, but there will be a lot going on in addition to that as well.”
Family Night will be held on Friday, July 15 from 5:30-9 p.m., and is an evening of fun for the entire family. Activities include a live polo match, Elite Beats DJ, Michael Oz Magic, Queen Bee face painting, amazing balloon twists, cookies and canvas, pony rides, hay rack rides, zoo animals, a game truck, a roaming superhero and other children’s characters, and a bounce house.
Food and beverages will be available for purchase, including selections from Hy-Vee, Jethro’s, Scornovacco’s Pizza, The Big Chill Ice Cream Truck and Coca-Cola products.
Admission is $20 for adults, and children younger than 12 get in free. All proceeds benefit Variety, and tickets may be purchased in advance or at the event.
On Saturday, July 16, the event continues with a live championship polo match at 5 p.m. Come dressed in your finest and be prepared to stomp divots (during halftime of a match, spectators are invited to go onto the field to participate in “divot-stomping,” which helps replace the sod that are torn up by horse hooves). Dinner, live and silent auctions, and a derby hat contest will follow. There will be live music from Flash Mob, and dancing starts at 8 p.m. The event will wrap up 11 p.m.
“We’ve designed this to be a social event, not a quiet one,” Jones said. “We do fun stuff, wear big hats and get dressed up.”
And most importantly, bring in money for a good cause. Polo on the Green has raised $924,000 to date and is poised to hit the $1 million mark this year.
“This is the Variety Club’s signature event,” said Jones. “We’ve been getting really great feedback since we started the family night two years ago, and we hope to be able to continue to grow it.” CV
|Polo on the Green
Powder River Ranch in Cumming, Iowa
See www.varietyiowa.com for more information