Entertaining


Tailgate Picnicking at Newport Polo

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Like so many things in Newport, equestrian pursuits have a colorful history here. The lush acreage where the Newport International Polo Series is now played was the former Glen Farm of Henry A. Taylor from the 1880s. The landscape, designed by the Frederick Law Olmsted firm, with its original farm buildings, milk barn and stable complex, still contributes a majestic picture book quality to the property (the northwest corner of the field is now the northerly terminus of the Sakonnet Greenway Trail.)

Glen Farm Stables at Glen Farm Equestrian Center, Portsmouth, RI
Glen Farm Stables at Glen Farm Equestrian Center, Portsmouth, RI

Newport Polo was originally founded as the Westchester Polo Club in 1876 by James Gordon Bennett, the publisher of the New York Herald, and some of his sporting friends who summered in Newport, and became America’s first polo club. Dan Keating, who initiated the restoration of the Glen, is the visionary and driving force who reintroduced polo to Newport in 1990.

Photo Credit: Kim Fuller

One side of the vast playing field is lined with a straight row of sky-high poles which fly the international flags representing the Club’s many competitors from around the world. Under this colorful setting, private canopies provide the venue for an entertaining style – tailgating — that is as integral to the polo scene as are the handsome mounts and their riders. The event starts off with all attendees standing for the singing of the American national anthem and the guest team’s anthem (below.)

Photo Credit: Kim Fuller

My friend Stacie Mills is a regular on the scene,  with two canopies in the middle of the action, sharing her Texas savoir faire and graciousness every Saturday afternoon of the summer. What fun to join her! Here’s a peek at our salute to Italy, the guest team for July 25th, 2015. My contribution included ceviche (layered in green, white and red of the Italian flag,) crudites with pesto and figs wrapped with prosciutto.

Photo Credit: Kim Fuller
Photo Credit: Kim Fuller

The horse’s head had double meaning today since we were playing Italy (remember “the Godfather”?)

Conviviality reins (excuse the spelling pun) at Stacie’s gatherings. Here she is (on the left,) sporting a shirt that pays tribute to polo.

Photo Credit: Kim Fuller

A polo match takes about one-and-a-half-hours to play, which doesn’t sound very long until you consider that the world’s oldest game is also one of its fastest (balls travel up to 110 miles per hour.) The players, for safety reasons, must hit right-handed. Polo is as rigorous for the riders as it is for their horses, which are most definitely the stars of the game. The six time periods are called “chukkers” and each is seven minutes long, with a fifteen minute halftime. Take a look…

Photo Credit: Kim Fuller
Photo Credit: Kim Fuller
Photo Credit: Kim Fuller
Photo Credit: Kim Fuller
Photo Credit: Kim Fuller

Adding to the festivities, the Newport International Polo Series has a pet-friendly policy!

Photo Credit: Kim Fuller

Polo and fashion are great partners, it’s all in your preference.

Photo Credit: Kim Fuller
Photo Credit: Kim Fuller

…and as I was about to finish this post, I found that one of my favorite shopping sites, One King’s Lane, is featuring selections for “Polo Style,” just in case  you yearn for some of the accessories and trappings of this preppy-chic equestrian style. My personal favorites are the vintage Hermes large brown Epson clutch, the Settler willow picnic basket and coffee set for 4, the rim stirrup cups, Ciel stool, Java and the embossed croc 12 cigar humidor. Here’s the link: One Kings Lane…. Enjoy!

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

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