Traditionally billed as the largest one-day fundraiser in Alabama, the celebrated Polo at the Point event will not take place in 2018. Linda Lou Parsons, who has served as chairperson of the event for the previous decade, confirmed the decision to Lagniappe.
“Point Clear Charities Inc. is taking a sabbatical in 2018, as we did in 2001,” Parsons wrote in an email when questioned why the event’s website and social media pages had not been updated on what would have been the 30th annual competition.
This marks the second straight year that Polo at the Point will not be played. In 2017, torrential rains and lightning forced a cancellation when the field at Sonny Hill-Clearwater Polo Complex just south of Fairhope along U.S. 98 was deemed unplayable.
The U.S. Polo Association-sanctioned event presented by Mercedes-Benz of Mobile and the Grand Hotel Marriott has been a major draw in Baldwin County for many decades. A weeklong tournament would culminate with a consolation game (Charity Cup) and championship match (Grand Oak Cup) on the final day. Members of the Point Clear Polo Club would often compete against professional and top amateurs from throughout the world.
Since its founding in 1988, the volunteer-driven Polo at the Point has donated millions of dollars primarily to the University of South Alabama’s Mitchell Cancer Institute (MCI) and the Thomas Hospital Foundation. In a news release from last year, MCI was going to use its money to purchase key laboratory equipment used in cancer research. Kelly McCarron, the Associate Vice President for Medical Affairs and Health Development at MCI, said the proceeds have helped in many other ways.
“Again, their support of the Kilborn Clinic helped us open that facility and provide access to cancer treatment to patients throughout Baldwin County,” McCarron told Lagniappe. “They have also supported research programs, not just equipment. It’s been a long partnership and we are extremely grateful for their support.”
As recently as 2014, Point Clear Charities presented $150,000 to 19 local non-profit organizations. The most recent list from the event’s website includes CARE House, Christian Services Center, Daphne High School JROTC, Drug Education Council, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Fairhope Educational Enrichment Foundation, Fairhope High School ENCORE, Rotary Club of Fairhope, Rotary Club of Point Clear, USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital plus Wilmer Hall Children’s Home.
There has been no mention on whether the sixth annual Fairhope Fete is also cancelled. In the past, the fashion event featured local merchants and a runway show at the Sonny Hill-Clearwater Complex during the same weekend as the tournament.
While there will be no action this October, Parsons indicates Polo at the Point will return. “We will keep you in the loop once the date is set for 2019,” she wrote.
Photo by Caroline Bramlet / LCB Style
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