Museum puts on polo showcase in McFaddin

March 31, 2012 at 10:01 p.m.
Updated March 30, 2012 at 10:31 p.m.

Marcos Villanueva and Billy Mudra vie for the ball during the Polo at McFaddin benefit for the Nave Museum on Saturday, Mar. 31. TODD KRAININ/TKRAININ@VICAD.COM

Marcos Villanueva and Billy Mudra vie for the ball during the Polo at McFaddin benefit for the Nave Museum on Saturday, Mar. 31. TODD KRAININ/TKRAININ@VICAD.COM   Todd Krainin for The Victoria Advocate

MCFADDIN - Even though polo is not synonymous with spring in South Texas, but Bob McCan can easily describe the sport to polo newbies.

"It's like hockey or basketball on horseback," said the McFaddin Ranch director.

McCan and players from around the state helped put on a polo showcase on Saturday during the fourth annual Polo in McFaddin fundraiser benefiting the Nave Museum and the Victoria Regional Museum Association.

The polo fundraiser was reinvigorated four years ago.

McCan played polo at Texas A&M before graduating in May of 1980.

Polo 2012 chairperson Kate Garcia admits she didn't know a great deal about the the game when she worked her first polo fundraiser three years ago.

"My knowledge of the event was (the movie) 'Pretty Woman,'" Garcia said with a smile. "All I knew is that I was supposed to wear a brown, polka-dotted, white dress."

Garcia estimated that over half of the fundraiser supporters are repeat donors who come back for all the event has to offer.

The polo match takes about four months to plan and is the museum's primary fundraiser. Garcia approximated 30 volunteers were on hand to help on Saturday.

One of those volunteers, Susan Morrison, said she grew up watching polo in Tulsa, Okla.

For her, art and polo go hand-in-hand.

"Art isn't just what's hanging on the wall to me, there's art in watching the polo match," Morrison said.

Garcia said the fundraiser generated revenue of more than $60,000 the last three years that went toward paying for the museum's operating cost.

Morrison said the fundraiser is one of the reasons the museum can put on free events and keep its admission as low as $2.

"I think it's very important and I think people realize that art is important," Garcia said. "It's a break from reality for them. Whether or not you think you understand it or whether or not you think it's your thing, I think people understand it."

For McCan the match had a personal aspect since his great grandmother, Emily McCan-Nave built the building that currently houses the museum as a memorial for her husband.

Like traditional polo matches, Saturday's event also included tailgaters.

The event also had a kid's corral, T-shirt and cup koozie vendors, a bar and both a live and silent auction that included donated prizes like a tow-hour flight lesson, an African hunt and gold and silver Dian Maloof ring.

The game has always been a hit with the rich and famous as the Royal Family, Sylvester Stallone, Bing Crosby and Clark Gable are some notable recreational polo players.

Morrison said she did her volunteer work before the event so she could enjoy the event and keep her fingers crossed for a brush with fame.

"Prince William is in the Falklands, but you never know who you will see at polo," Morrison said. "Tommy Lee Jones is a polo player, you never know, (you can see) lots of local celebrities. I'm sure brother Gary Moses will be here at some point."

According the Museum of Polo Hall of Fame, the game has been enjoyed for over 2,000 years of recorded history.

The organization credited James Gordon Bennett with brining polo to the United States in the 1870s and called the 1930s and the 1980s the golden eras of the game.

Like hockey or soccer, the object of the game in polo is to score more goals during a match lasting four to six periods, or longer if overtime is needed.

Two teams of four-players on horses play on a regulation outdoor field that is 300 yards long and 160 yards wide.



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