Summer Sunset Polo: Horses, Tailgating, and Fun at the Florida Horse Park

Think about a balmy summer evening breeze, the crack of a polo mallet on the ball, and the pounding of hooves on the turf. What do you have? The Ocala Polo Club and its exclusive Summer Sunset Polo series, taking place this summer at the Florida Horse Park. This is a lively and entertaining way to enjoy the summer nights here in Ocala and Marion County.

PC: Sublime Photography - Jenna Petty


“We always enjoy our matches this time of year,” says Ocala Polo Club team director, Dr. Lauren Proctor-Brown. “Once the sun goes past the treeline on the west side, the temps really start to drop. And there’s always a breeze!” That makes the event more comfortable. Plus, you can bring or rent a tent for cover and even more comfort.


Drive Up, Park, Party!

The Ocala Polo Club matches are easy to access. You just drive right up to the sidelines, pull out your gear, and tailgate with no hassle. The grassy areas mean there’s no mud to slog through, and you can just open your vehicle and set up your party supplies. Food and drink are welcome. Many folks bring a dinner spread and eat while watching the action.


Bring your own tent, or tent space is available for rent, starting at just $25. Anyone, including businesses or groups, can rent dedicated tailgate space, set up their food and drink, and put on a party that will be a unique and fun evening for friends and family, or staff and clients. Another bonus to tailgating is the inherent social distancing; you’re outside in fresh air. RESERVE A TAILGATE SPOT


Tailgating at Ocala Polo is a close-up, visceral experience. The horses gallop by, just yards away from the sidelines. You can hear them huffing and the players shouting directions to one another. Proctor-Brown says, “We even let people know to keep alert during the chukkers because horses and players are allowed to pop over the sidelines. When you see them heading your way, you might want to be ready to move!” And she should know because she’s a key player on Team Resolute.


Tailgate Competitions with Prizes

Tailgating competition is getting fierce, says Sally Lewis, Founder of brandItOCALA, a major sponsor of the club. “People often dress up and wear hats, of course, and we’re seeing folks really jump into the themed days. It’s a blast to see the creativity and good spirits that folks bring to their tents and decor.”


Each week, prizes are awarded for the Best Tailgate Tent. This year’s themes include Pirate Day on June 18, the Independence Cup on July 2, and Life’s a Beach day on July 30. For these, dressing up and decorating will be fun. Clearly, you’ll see lots of red, white, and blue for the Independence Cup. For the beach day, spectators are encouraged to go all out with oceanside ideas. Beach toys, kiddies pools, the ever-popular Hawaiian shirts, and yep, even bathing suits have made an appearance at Summer Sunset Polo.


The sponsors offer both silly and serious prizes to give away. “Usually, at least one prize is for tailgating, like a wine bottle holder, cutting board, or a picnic cooler,” Lewis says. “And some of the prizes are just fun and play off the theme of the day. We’re looking forward to the ideas our wonderful tailgaters will come up with this season.”


PC: Sublime Photography - Jenna Petty


Marketing Opportunities and Fun Local Connections

“Summer Sunset Polo is also a good chance for businesses, both local and national, to reach customers, clients, and staff with this unique experience,” Lewis says. It’s common for businesses to bring their staff as a rewarding night out with fresh air, a fun setting, and a distinctive sports experience.


Lewis also says, “We’ve been involved with the Ocala Polo Club from the start, and for branditOCALA, polo is really a good value. 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.”


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. Sponsorship packages are available and can be customized specifically for each business. Businesses can offer prizes for the tailgate competition or prizes (often, horse-themed or equipment) for the winning team, MVP or Best Pony of the match.



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, just 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 at each match. And yes, spectators do go out onto the field at halftime and stomp in the divots, just like in the movie Pretty Woman.


Matches are played on Saturday evenings at 6 pm through August. Pack up your staff, friends, or family, and enjoy the unique experience of Summer Sunset Polo.

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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