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updated: 7/15/2011 9:53 AM

Batavia polo event benefits local theater groups

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  • Visitors to the Blackberry Polo Club on Bliss Road in Batavia this Sunday, July 17, can watch a polo match, dress up in costume and tailgate. The event is a fundraiser for Oswego Playhouse and Batavia MainStreet's Shakespeare on Clark.

      Visitors to the Blackberry Polo Club on Bliss Road in Batavia this Sunday, July 17, can watch a polo match, dress up in costume and tailgate. The event is a fundraiser for Oswego Playhouse and Batavia MainStreet's Shakespeare on Clark.
    Laura Stoecker/Daily Herald archives, 2005

 
By Samantha Kiesel
skiesel@dailyherald.com

Polo is not necessarily a sport everyone can play as it requires one important, and expensive, component -- a horse.

On Sunday, July 17, spectators can get a peek at this elite sport when the Blackberry Polo Club celebrates its 25th season with a benefit open to the public.

The doors open at noon with the first match beginning at 1 p.m. and the last ending around 4 p.m. at the Blackberry Polo Club on Bliss Road.

Barb Alexander of Batavia, co-owner and member of the Blackberry Polo Club, said the club hosts a benefit every year donating the money raised to two organizations. This year the benefit will support Oswego Playhouse and Batavia Main Street's Shakespeare on Clark.

"We usually support more of the arts groups," Alexander said. "People that are performers like to see polo as a performance. There is a lot of action but also a lot of beauty. I think the horses being a part of the sport helps, too."

The groups benefiting from the event are the main planners of the event. Both groups helped to create a theme, which this year is "Do You Believe in Magic." Spectators are encouraged to pack a themed picnic and bring it to the tailgate competition to win prizes donated by sponsors Pheasant Run and Hughes Creek Golf Course.

The nonprofit organizations are also in charge of selling tickets, organizing parking and getting the raffle prizes.

Julane Sullivan, director and producer of the Shakespeare on Clark productions, has been helping Alexander with the benefit for several years.

"I go to the benefit for two reasons. One because it is a wonderful philanthropic opportunity for the nonprofit groups and two it's just a relaxing environment," Sullivan said. "How often do you get to see a polo match in this area? And it's just fascinating watching these horses. I just have a great time."

Sullivan, a friend of Alexander's, has helped with the benefit, even if not directly involved with the organizations raising money. She said this year is special because Shakespeare on Clark is very close to her heart. She encourages people who aren't familiar with polo to attend.

"I think is a fun event because most of the people attending don't know much about polo," Sullivan said. "They have an announcer that takes the time to explain the game so people can understand what they're actually seeing."

The benefit will feature three matches and a halftime event allowing people to take a carriage ride with the Clydesdale horses. The first-place team will win a trophy in the memory of Tom Wigdahl, a player who died 15 years ago in a polo match. The winners will not take the trophy home as it travels to tournaments around the country.

"The winners will get to take a picture with it," Alexander said. "It's a major trophy throughout the country and people like to say they won something important."

The event will also feature such classic polo activities as stomping the divots during halftime.

"It's a competition for all ages ... you get to participate in the divot stomping and you get to see the horses," said polo player Robert Fury, cofounder of Blackberry Polo Club. "There are not a lot of events like this in the area and it's one of the places you can see all the pomp and circumstance."

For more information, call Batavia Main Street at (630) 761-3528.

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