Polo for Charity

Get ready for the 24th Polo for Charity on Sunday, October 22 at Rose Hill Equestrian Center, Bluffton. Gates open at noon, and the match starts at 2 p.m. at this afternoon affair coordinated by the Rotary Club of Okatie. This unique event is revered as one of the highlights of the Bluffton and Hilton Head Island Fall social calendar and ranks right up there with the RBC Heritage in caliber and prestige!

Fashionable or Functional?

The first thing that often comes to mind when considering polo fashion is the hats, which serve both a functional, as well as fashionable, role. These varied headpieces DO help keep the sun out of one’s eyes while trying to keep an eye on the ponies playing polo. So, the bigger, the better, right?

Options can range from wide-brimmed straw hats with floral accents to smaller, more compact fascinators featuring ornate ribbon and feathers. Some opt to create an equestrian-themed display on their hat. Others simply shake the sand out of their beach hat and put it on. Do your best to flaunt the prettiest topper, though, because a prize is also awarded for Best Hat.

Polo fashion is typically considered to be “runway worthy.” However, this is the Lowcountry, where comfort often overshadows trendy on any given day. October afternoons in Bluffton can be quite warm, so dressing for the weather is advisable. Just as the tailgate spots represent a wide array of people, so do the fashions.

Women often sport brightly colored sundresses or maxi dresses, but others prefer to wear shorts or capris. And finding the perfect hat to complement your outfit is key. Another important consideration is comfortable shoes—ones capable of participating during the traditional halftime “divot stomping.” While Julia Roberts was able to stomp the divots in stilettos in Pretty Woman, you might want to leave the high heels at home.

Some men will sport seersucker, bow ties or even the occasional Hawaiian shirt. And, of course, you will see many men in traditional “polo” shirt and shorts. Fedoras are perched atop some of the men’s heads, while others opt for a regular ball cap to keep the sun out of their eyes.

Time to Tailgate

Who says tailgating is reserved for football fans only? The Polo for Charity event is renowned for picnicking at its best. You will see all types of tailgating spots, ranging from the traditional to the chic and fancy. Just like Bluffton is known as a “state of mind” with a wide range of eclectic people, the tailgate picnics represent the same varied personalities of those involved.

You will see tailgate spots featuring shrimp cocktail, delectable desserts and champagne. Some even have plush couches, beautiful area rugs and chandeliers dangling from the inside of the tent with assorted menus served upon lovely tables set with fine linens and dazzling floral displays. These tailgaters often dine upon real china and drink from sparkling crystal flutes, bringing the “fancy” traditions surrounding the game of polo to life right here in the Lowcountry. It makes for an afternoon unlike any other.

You will also see checkered tablecloths covering card tables with traditional tailgating fare, such as hot dogs, sandwiches, chips and beer. Generally, these are the spots full of families. Sipping from red Solo cups and dining on paper plates, these tailgaters are there more to enjoy the beautiful location than a fine dining experience. They enjoy tossing a football or playing corn hole to pass the time before the “main event” begins. Or, they are comfortably lounging in their folding “bag” chairs, catching up with friends and neighbors.

Traditional, upscale or somewhere in between, whatever your style or taste, all are welcome to express themselves through their tailgate menu and drinks at the Polo for Charity event. And, you could be recognized for your efforts, with an award for the best tailgate picnic display. So, gather your friends and start planning your spread today!

Polo Cuisine

When considering your event menu, you generally want to go for foods that are easy to transport and not too messy, but still delicious and fun.

Here are two recipes you may consider for your tailgate experience:
Cucumber Sandwiches

Ingredients:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup mayonnaise
1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
36 slices snack rye bread
1 medium cucumber, sliced

Instructions:
Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise and dressing mix. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Just before serving, spread over bread and top with cucumber slices.

Bourbon Pecan Bars

Ingredients:
1½ cups flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter
1 egg
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
¾ cup packed light-brown sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
3 Tbsp bourbon
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ tsp salt
2 cups chopped pecans

Instructions:
The crust: Preheat oven to 375°. Line a 9×13 baking pan with foil. In food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter; pulse more. Add egg; pulse until dough forms.

Transfer dough to pan and press firmly into bottom of pan. Freeze for about 15 minutes. Prick bottom of dough and bake 22 – 25 minutes. Let cool while preparing filling.

The filling: In a large saucepan over high heat, bring butter, brown sugar and corn syrup to a boil. Whisk until smooth; continue boiling, without stirring, for about 2 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream, bourbon and salt. Slowly mix in pecans. Spoon hot filling evenly over crust. Bake until bubbling, about 18 to 22 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Using foil, lift from pan and peel off foil. Slice and enjoy!

Now is the time to start picking your outfit and planning your menu for an enjoyable and unforgettable afternoon of tailgating and fun for a great cause. Proceeds from the 24th Polo for Charity benefit local charities supported by the Rotary Club of Okatie.

Tickets are $20 at the gate on the day of the match or $15 per person in advance. Children under 12 are admitted free. Advance tickets are available at the Rose Hill POA Office, BB&T Branches on Hilton Head and in Bluffton, Bluffton Pharmacy, Markel’s and the Engel & Völkers offices in Bluffton, Hilton Head and Savannah. For more information call (843) 298-3055 or (843) 384-8010, email rotarypolo@hotmail.com or visit The Okatie Rotary Polo for Charity page on Facebook.

Article by Emily Campbell
Photography by Regine Johnson