For years the Polo for Charity is revered as one of the highlights of the Bluffton and Hilton Head Island Fall social calendar.
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.
Tailgate spots feature shrimp cocktail, delectable desserts and champagne. Some even feature plush couches, beautiful area rugs and chandeliers dangling from the inside of the tent. These tailgaters often dine upon real china and drink from sparkling crystal flutes. They bring the “fancy” traditions surrounding the game of polo to life right here in the Lowcountry. It makes for an afternoon unlike any other.
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.
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:
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
- 36 slices snack rye bread
- 1 medium cucumber, sliced
Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise and dressing mix. Refrigerate 1 hour.
Just before serving, spread over bread and top with cucumber slices.
Bourbon Pecan Bars
- 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
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.
Article by Emily Campbell, Photography by Regine Johnson