Polo at the Park: Tailgating and Fun at the Florida Horse Park

Want to try something a bit different on a Sunday afternoon? Then consider joining in on the fun with the Ocala Polo Club for its polo matches, taking place now at the Florida Horse Park (FHP). You can pull your vehicle right up to the sidelines, bring or rent a tent, and have a great time watching the athleticism and excitement of a close-up polo match. You might even win a prize for the décor of your tailgate party!

PC: Sublime Photography - Jenna Petty

“We have a great time playing at the Florida Horse Park. We’ve upgraded the viewing area, adding a two-story announcer’s booth, an electronic scoreboard and spectators can set up right along the sidelines for great viewing,” says Ocala Polo Club team director, Lauren Proctor-Brown, DVM. “It’s a great chance to see the teams and be up close and personal with the sport.”

Easy Access, No Hassle

Polo at FHP is an easy, drive-up experience. No slogging through a muddy parking lot, no schlepping your supplies a long distance. You can pull directly next to the field sidelines and set up your gear with ease. Bring your own tent, or tent space is available for rent, starting at just $25. Plus, as an outdoor event, you don’t have to be as concerned about social distancing. Groups or businesses can purchase extended, dedicated tailgate space, set up their food and drink, and put on a party that will be a unique and fun event for friends and family, or staff and clients.


“The horses gallop by, just yards away,” says Proctor-Brown, “and you can feel the pounding of their hooves as they zip past. It’s really quite exciting to be so close!” And she should know—because she’s a key player on Team Resolute and the Women's League.

Tailgate Competitions with Prizes

Tailgating competition is gaining traction, with contests and prizes awarded each week for creativity, theme, and execution. Previous themes have been The Life's A Beach Day, when the sidelines area was decorated in a beachy theme, and some spectators wore surf and beach attire. Hat Day, of course, brought out many inspiring Derby-style hats.

“People get so creative with the themes, “ says Sally Lewis, CEO and Founder of brandItOCALA, a major sponsor. “Everyone is going all out this year, which is fun to see. It’s been a blast to be part of the creativity!” "We have a lot of first time spectators enjoying the fun and laid back atmosphere."

Prizes for tailgate winners often include wine totes and wine, cheese cutting boards, utensils, food gifts, and other accessories for tailgating. “We’ll usually have both silly and serious prizes to give away,” Lewis says.

PC: Sublime Photography - Jenna Petty

Charity Giving

“These matches also have a great charity element,” Proctor-Brown says. “Horses & Heroes' Day raised $5000 for the Wounded Warrior Project this year." Everyone really stepped up and supported these efforts and the match was well attended.

Usually, at least one match per month benefits a charity. The Ocala Polo Club has recently developed a new partnership with the Florida Thoro-bred Fillies to raise funds for various local charities. This relationship has been important with many ideas and goals that parallel for fundraising, awareness and community involvement. The recent Julie Braswell Memorial match, held in January, raised $1,500 and the Beth Rose Memorial Cup match was held in February raised over $1,600 for the Florida Thor-bred Fillies. Both women were avid horse lovers. In fact, Braswell founded the Beth Rose Memorial Cup and was a leader in the thoroughbred community to protect Florida horse racing.

“Silent auctions and gift items are at many of our matches,” Proctor-Brown says. “We’re always humbled and grateful at how generous our spectators and participants are when it comes to helping these charities.” Auction items are both horsey and non-horsey with services like a farrier visit, original artwork, gourmet bakery items, or an elegant cheese and wine basket often offered by local businesses.

Marketing Opps for Businesses, Great Local Connections

“The Ocala Polo Club is also a great opportunity for businesses to provide a unique experience for clients and staff,” Lewis says. “I’ve been thrilled to have brandItOCALA involved with the Ocala Polo Club, and it’s been rewarding on many levels. One, it’s just a fun event. People bring friends, family, dogs, you never know who will show up! Two, the club offers sponsorship and marketing opportunities to help businesses promote themselves in a low-key yet effective way.” "It's a great way to support a local. grass roots equine event with different levels of sponsorships."

Current sponsors include brandItOCALA, Showcase Properties of Central Florida, Horse Capital Television, Tack Shack of Ocala, Sneaky Snacks, Farm Tours of Ocala, Porsche of Ocala, Movex, Piccin & Glynn Attorneys at Law and Elite Equestrian magazine. Many sponsorship packages are available and can be customized specifically for each business. Businesses can offer prizes for the tailgate competition or prizes for the winning team of the match, and host a hospitality tent at the match. Learn more about Sponsor Packages.

branditOCALA loves to support local equine events with prizes for the matches and best tailgate. Check out some of our favorites below.

Florida Horse Park—A Great Place to Play

The Florida Horse Park is a great venue for polo. It has easy access from 475 or 475A, and is located a bit north of County Road 484. The field is regulation size, and offers spectators the opportunity to see an exciting sport. Polo matches are family and dog-friendly; there are usually at least a half dozen pooches on leashes enjoying the festive atmosphere each match. And yes, spectators can go out onto the field at halftime and stomp in the divots, just like in the movie Pretty Woman.

Matches are played on Sunday afternoons at 1 pm through March. Join in for a lovely outdoor event, enjoy the great Florida weather, and experience the excitement of polo for yourself!

PC: Sublime Photography - Jenna Petty

Interested in more information to watch, learn, play or sponsor contact:

Laura Proctor Brown at lauren@teamresolutepolo.com or ocalapoloclub.com




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