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Tropical tailgaters Polo fans go all-out for Caribbean Cup
LAURIE KNOWLES CALLANAN Record Express Correspondent
, Staff Writer
For a moment you could imagine yourself on some Caribbean island, savoring the last days of summer.
Steel drums and Jimmy Buffet tunes were wafting through the Rothsville polo fields and tailgaters were indulging in mojitos, fruit punch, jerk chicken and fresh pineapple. There were palm trees, parrots, Jamaican and Cuban flags, and someone even brought the beach.
It was Caribbean Cup Day at Forney Field on Sunday, and with the sultry heat, it did indeed seem like the tropics. The polo referees wore Hawaiian shirts and everyone sweltered in the steamy sun.
Reality came with the competing polo teams, one from Lancaster and the other from the Beechdale Farms in York County. At the end of the match, it was a 9-9 tie.
"It’s great to have a new team competing with Lancaster," said announcer Bob LeMin, Jr., who was spinning the tunes in between chukkers.
There were other winners too, thanks to Eric and Beth Stombaugh, who sponsored the Caribbean Cup tailgate contest with prizes of $100 to each winner for best food, best drink and best theme. The Stombaughs, who have been in the food and beverage business, wanted to do something fun for the polo event, and they funded the prizes themselves. With help from friend Kathy Fausnacht, they checked out all the competitors, who surrounded the field, with everything from a suckling pig roast to a mini-beach with sand.
Prizes were awarded at half-time, with Chris Troutman of Lititz taking top honors in the food category for her jerk chicken skewers and salsa. Patty Ritz of Lititz took first for drinks with her fruity Jamaican rum punch. Best theme winner was Mark Strickler, who went all out with his Caribbean setting.
Strickler and friends Vera Sweeney, Glenn Amey and Maureen Amey took the competition seriously. Strickler created an entire Caribbean menu, with Puerto Rican plantain chips, St. Lucian shrimp, jicama and mango salad, Bahamian conch fritters, Cuban sandwiches, Trinidad-style grilled tuna, Jamaican jerk chicken, Cuban roast suckling pig and Cayman rum cake.
Not only did the food establish the theme, but Strickler had flags from the Caribbean, a variety of rum drinks like punch and mojitos, table coverings with maps of the Caribbean and various artifacts from trips to the islands. He even adorned the menu with a floral lei.
"Mark always goes all out and this is so much fun," said Sweeney, who was joined by her pug Weesie. Sweeney spent much of the match as a flag person at one end of the field, retrieving balls and helping to keep score.
Chris Troutman not only won for best food, but she brought the beach.
Well, it was actually a Caribbean blue kiddie pool with a little sand in the pool. A colorful beach umbrella helped to add to the ambiance.
Troutman was joined by her husband Steve, daughter Alicia, friend Chris Charles and grandchildren Ana and Christopher Atkins.
The Troutmans went on dates at Lancaster polo matches before they were married 37 years ago, and they have been members of Lancaster Polo for nearly 20 years, coming to just about every match on Sundays during the season.
"As hot as it is today, I think the pool was a very good idea," she said.
Across the field, friends Jill Edwards, George Beech and Jim and Deb Colgrove were creating their own Caribbean paradise. They had an inflatable palm tree with a parrot. There was plenty of ice, beer, Margaritas and island food. They even adorned the table with a palapas grass skirt. Their dog Snibbles was enjoying the trip to the tropics, finding shade beneath the make-believe palm tree.
Even those who didn’t go all out for the theme managed to add a few touches, like Hawaiian shirts and fruity drinks. There was even a black dog wandering around that was dressed in dreadlocks.
The polo season runs through Oct. 7 at the Forney Polo Field in Rothsville. Started 73 years ago by Lancaster cattle dealers, the Lancaster Polo Club was established at the Rothsville field of Ben Forney back in 1956. Forney played polo well into his 80s.
"Our players range from 15 years old to more than 65," said LeMin, adding that some players come from the Work to Ride program in Philadelphia.
Polo matches consist of three or four players on each team, playing six chukkers or periods that last seven and a half minutes. The horses and players take a break in between each chukker, changing horses, then take a longer half-time break after the third chukker. The game is played on a field with goal posts on each end. The players try to hit the ball between the posts to score one point. After each goal, the teams switch sides, and head the other direction.
Marking its 73rd season, Lancaster Polo matches are held on Sundays at 2:30 p.m., with gates opening at 1 p.m. Admission is just $5 per person or $15 per carload, with children under 12 free – all going to support polo in Rothsville.
More CARIBBEAN CUP, page A16