Of all of the traditions that are associated with polo, tailgating has become one of the most enduring and widespread.

At some clubs, spectators simply park their cars by the field and lay out blankets or lawn chairs; at others, the incredible array of food and pageantry rivals the spectacle of the game itself. These are two events that are absolutely worth visiting.

Mashomack Polo Club

In Millbrook, N.Y., tailgating has deep roots, given the community’s passion for polo as well as fox hunting, beagling, and shooting.

The summer season kicks off at the Mashomack Polo Club, where patrons enjoy a field-side tented lunch while the tailgaters mark the event with antique vehicles, trucks outfitted for crawfish boils, period tents with campaign furniture and oriental rugs, fly follies designed in a vivid Brazilian or Indian “durbar” style, even a huge American flag adapted as a de facto canopy.

Photos below: Tailgating at the Mashomack Polo Club in Millbrook, N.Y., is a long-standing New York tradition.

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Most tailgaters are young couples, the college crowd, or established members of the polo community. Music pumps from portable speakers; frozen drinks are made with weed-whacker-powered blenders next to linen-covered tables with sterling candelabra; benches piled high with seafood; or blankets with spreads of Argentinean empanadas, milanesas and sandwiches de miga, all reflecting the varied tastes of the tailgating crowd. As time passes, guests of the tented affair along with the polo players wander over after lunch to mix with the more free-form tailgating crowd and to enjoy the post-event carnival atmosphere of the afternoon.

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The Gay Polo League

The International Gay Polo Tournament is one of the most festive highlights of the Wellington, Fla., winter equestrian season, and the event is well-known for its elaborate tailgates. “Tailgates at our Wellington event are legendary! The tailgate competition is fierce! Some spectators work all year to create their theme,” according to league founder, Chip McKenney.

The ambience at a polo match sets the stage for an incredible event, and every year†tailgaters seek to best each other for creativity and execution. The†result is one of the most colorful and entertaining outdoor events on the season’s calendar.

“As judges, we really enjoy the interaction,” said M. Douglas Mutch, from Gracie Street Interiors, who judged a recent tournament. “Everyone welcomed†us to their tailgates and wanted us to sample the food and drink. It’s not just about who looks the best, it’s about how everything works together.”

Photos below: Tailgate designs and themes at the Gay Polo League Tournament are legendary. Themes range from safaris, to the Titanic, to airline counters, and lauaus, and are awarded prizes.


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