Polo at McFaddin readies for March 22 event
Jennifer Lee Preyss
March 5, 2014 at 3:03 p.m.
Updated March 4, 2014 at 9:05 p.m.
Descending the hill at McFaddin Ranch - the polo field coming into focus now - a thunderous roar crescendos.
Spectators gaze from afar as two teams of elegant polo-trained thoroughbreds rip divots in the grass, vying for a speedy opening for their riders to strike the ball and score a goal.
On either side of the hill, approaching the oversized white tent, tailgaters serve up gourmet fare, adding to the afternoon's scent of spring and polo exhibition.
It's a day for relaxation in the country, but it's also a day to raise money for a good cause.
Polo at McFaddin - an event put on each year by the Victoria Regional Museum Association to underwrite education programs and support The Nave Museum's international exhibitors - is unlike any fundraiser in South Texas.
Julie McCan, the event's benefactor chairwoman and president, has taken part in the event since its inception in the 1980s, gradually increasing in her roles of leadership as the event waned more than a decade ago, then surged to popularity when it relaunched several years ago.
"Unless you want to spend some big money and go out of town, this is a great opportunity to see a horse sport that you may never see again anywhere else. It's action-packed," said McCan. "You see these beautiful eight horses running up and down the field, and it makes this exciting sound. It's a very exciting game."
McCan said the polo game is the The Nave's largest fundraiser of the year. So even while the day is full of entertainment, including a live and silent auction and children's activities, it's intended to maintain the museum and keep it funded enough to continue its role in the community as benefactor and art exhibitor.
Polo players, McCan explained, are invited to the ranch from outside cities and range in age and sex from team to team.
McCan's husband, Bob McCan - whose father, Kerry, launched the polo fundraiser in the 1980s - is riding for the home team.
"I've ridden since I was a boy, and I played polo when I went to Texas A&M," Bob McCan said, mentioning he also trains and sells horses for polo at the ranch during the year. "It's like any sport; horses have to be kept in condition. We have to work them every day. We ride them or exercise them every day to get them ready."
The McCans both emphasized the event is one for the entire family, and anyone interested in a different and exciting day in the countryside will enjoy the game.
Many of the items donated for live and silent auction retail for hundreds or thousands of dollars, including Torin Bales jewelry, art, paintings, kayaking trips and spa packages to Woodhouse Day Spa.
"It's not a 'Pretty Woman' uppity thing," McCan said. "It's just a beautiful day in the country. And it's a lot of fun."