Barrington Hills polo matches return Sept. 8
If you think the sport of polo is a game played among royalty and privileged blue bloods, think again.
The 14th annual LeCompte Kalaway Trail Owners Cup Polo Event returns Sept. 8 to Barrington Hills, and it features a host of family activities as well as two exciting polo matches.
"It's Chicagoland's largest and best-attended polo event," says Karen Selman of Barrington Hills, who chairs the event this year.
For starters, the popular "Parade of Hounds" opens the event, with a pack of baying foxhounds flooding onto the polo field, only to have riders from the Fox River Valley Hunt Club, wearing their traditional red hunting coats, control them.
Equestrian fans also will get to see a demonstration of precision riding by Timmerman's Mounted Drill Team, based in Island Lake, before they serve as color guard during the playing of the national anthem.
There's even a ladies' hat competition, as well as a prize for best tailgate. Children will enjoy riding in hay wagons provided by Patch 22 in Wadsworth, and seeing young riders from the Fox River Valley Pony Club demonstrate their skills.
The opening match pits an all-female team against an all-male team in a battle of the sexes type confrontation. While such competitions are rare in sports, it reflects the growth of women playing polo, says John Rosene, president of the Barrington Hills Polo Club, which hosts the event with the Riding Club of Barrington Hills.
"The increase of women has been growing for the last 15 years," Rosene says. "In fact, polo is the only coed team sport in the world, and women are the fastest growing segment."
In the second match, players will be vying for the LeCompte Kalaway Trail Owners Cup, named for the LeCompte family, which provides the venue for the event, and the late Ben Kalaway, a well-known horseman in Barrington Hills.
Organizers hope families make a day of it. Some of the additional attractions include visiting with the miniature ponies from the Soul Harbour Ranch Animal Therapy Program in Barrington, or taking in a display of classic luxury and sports cars. Look for Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Alfa Romeos and Bentleys, to name a few.
In fact, the first ball for each match will be thrown from a sporty, new 2018 Audi roadster.
The event takes place at the Oakwood Farms polo field in Barrington Hills. Originally, the polo tournament was conceived as a way to recognize the private homeowners in Barrington Hills who allow riding trails across their property.
The private land links to Cook County Forest Preserve trails to form a network of nearly 200 miles of bridle paths through the area.
However, its attendance has grown each year and now organizers design it as a way to promote polo and equestrian sports, especially in the North and Northwest suburbs.
"Chicago area polo used to be concentrated in the South and Southwest suburbs," Rosene says. "Today, the shift is to the North and Northwest. According to the U.S. Polo Association, Barrington Hills is the fastest growing area, and the Barrington Hills Polo Club is now the largest club in the Midwest."
The club has three grass polo fields in Barrington Hills and also operates a facility in Wauconda with a lighted outdoor arena, plus a smaller indoor arena for winter play. Its members are dedicated to making sure polo is accessible, affordable and fun.
If you goWhat: LeCompte Kalaway Trail Owners Cup Polo Event
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8
Where: Oakwood Farms, 362 Bateman Road, Barrington Hills
Admission: $20, free for children younger than 12