MCFADDIN — For two years, the McFaddin Ranch Polo Grounds south of Victoria have remained silent because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During those years, there have been no horses running up and down the field as teams of jockeys ride them fighting over the ball, no elaborate spring outfits among spectators, no tasty food from tailgaters. However, that all changed Saturday, a day where the weather was seemingly perfect for an event there. Polo at McFaddin is an annual charity benefit for the Nave Museum, a celebrated Victoria art museum.
The return of the event resulted in more sponsored tables than they’ve ever sold with 40 tables. The event raised more than $100,000 for the museum, according to event officials.
“People were ready to get out and about,” said Nave Museum President Ernesto Perez. “We couldn’t ask for a better day.”
The Nave was fortunate to have such loyal patrons who still donated to the museum during the pandemic, but getting back to the event,which is the museum’s biggest fundraiser, was great to see, Perez said.
For those in attendance, the fashion on display ranged from light and breezy outfits with sunhats and open-toed shoes that evoked images of spring to country wear with boots and cowboy hats that felt right at home on a ranch.
After all, fashion is often an expression of a person’s identity and personality, said Lascena Simmons, owner of Peaches and Tortilla Mercantile, a downtown Victoria boutique.
“I love polo because I feel everyone steps out of their comfort zone,” Simmons said. “They dress up and wear something really fun and unique. It’s a great event to be able to wear almost art in what almost represents your personality.”
Simmons, who was wearing a light-pink dress with a hat and shoes that had a bell bottom fringe on top of it, was particularly grateful for the event this year.
“It’s such a blessing to be here with everybody,” she said. “After the past couple of years of not being able to do it, it makes you realize how much you love people and doing things.”
Food from the tailgaters was an eclectic mix that included delights such as smoked salmon, Frito pies, pork-belly burnt ends, street tacos, banana pudding, pasta salad and much, much more.
“They couldn’t wait to sign up again,” said Kathleen Carey, Polo at McFaddin Committee tailgating chair.
For both patrons and tailgaters, the event was something of a first chance to get out and see their friends after two years where social events were on hold.
Patrons laughed and smiled as they savored the food and drink on offer, and tailgaters shared their food, welcomed each other back and helped out wherever they could.
Amid all the flavors and aromas, the thundering sound of galloping resounding from the two teams playing on the massive 360-by-160-yard field that had a match, which ended in a 5-4 victory for the home team of McFaddin Ranch over visitors No Le Hace.
For Victoria resident George Boozalis, 60, it was the first time he could actually attend the event. During past years, there was always a scheduling conflict.
With the event returning on a date rescheduled because of the pandemic, he was able to make time for it this year.
“You see all these people that we usually see at all the charity functions, and it’s great to see them all again,” Boozalis said. “It’s just been wonderful. We’ve been locked up, and now we can get out and enjoy it.”