It’s already August, which means summer is fast approaching its final few weeks. However, that shouldn’t slow you down for enjoying the outdoors. In fact, right in the middle of September there’s an outdoor event that will not only be fun for everyone, but will also serve a good cause: Freedom Farm’s 12th Annual Polo Event Fundraiser.

Polo, for those that haven’t had a chance to see it, is a game played on horseback. Two opposing teams attempt to score goals by hitting a small, hard ball with a wooden mallet, all while directing a horse. Each team has four riders, and each game lasts anywhere between one or two hours. Typically seen as an event similar to horse racing, most people have probably seen it on TV or in a film.

“These are professional polo players are having a polo match at Blackberg Ranch,” said Susie Bjorklund, owner of Freedom Farm. “It’s intense, athletic, and it’s an event that’s fun for everyone.”

The riders are from all around country, so you know it’s definitely going to be an intense game. However, the game isn’t all that’s happening during the day. Many visitors dress up, particularly in large hats. As such, there will be a hat contest that will have a grand prize for whomever has the best hat. If you don’t have a hat, don’t worry though. Freedom Farm riders are currently preparing hats for participants to purchase so they can also participate in the contest and dressing up.

“We have about 70 hats for sale for a small donation, and all that money goes to these kids to support their horse,” said Bjorklund. “They make them so fun and so fancy, and the guests that attend the event can purchase them at the event. The riders are just so excited that people come up to them and thank them.”

There will also be a divot stomp during halftime, which will have a hidden medallion for a prize, as well as a live auction. Some of the items at the auction will include a floating picnic table, trips, fishing extravaganzas, outdoor patio bar, and more.

Outside of the game and halftime, there’s even more going on. A petting zoo will be set up as well as face painting, carriage rides, and crafts for all ages to enjoy. There will also be a raffle going on as well as a silent auction throughout the day, so there are plenty activities for all ages. There will also be food provided by Mario’s Italian Food Truck to help keep guests fed and hydrated throughout the day.

The Polo Event Fundraiser came about 12 years ago when Bjorklund and her volunteers were thinking of ways to help fundraise for Freedom Farm’s Therapeutic Riding Program. When polo became the idea, the owners of Blackberg Ranch generously donated their space for the event, and so far it’s been successful every year.

All proceeds go to Freedom Farm and their Therapeutic Riding Program, Hope with Horses for Teens, and Healing with Horses for Veterans. These programs seek to help those with mental, physical, or emotion challenges through horse riding, no matter their age. And if you want to be event more generous toward Freedom Farm with this Polo Event, there are still openings for sponsors.

Sponsorship packages range from $300 to $10,000, so sponsors can pick exactly what they are able. Just a few of the current sponsors include Canterbury Park, Adara Home Health, and K-DID, all three of which have sponsored teams for this year and previous years. Purchasing a sponsorship puts your business logo on the particular program as well. For example, if your business sponsors the Face Painting Program, your logo is featured in the program for the event. Different tiers of sponsorship also offer different benefits for the sponsor, so be sure to check out the sponsorships by visiting https://www.freedomfarmmn.org/polo-event-fundraiser/ for more information and packages. There are also VIP tents available for purchase.

Last year, the Polo Event Fundraiser raised about $140,000 for Freedom Farm’s many programs. This year’s goal is $200,000. If you want to help them reach this goal but can’t purchase a sponsorship package, there will be a donation table that accepts all forms of payment. Even just attending helps out Freedom Farm.

“All money directly supports the programs at Freedom Farm,” said Bjorklund. “By attending this event, you truly are impacting life.”

The Polo Event Fundraiser will take place on September 14 from 12-4pm, with the match starting at 1pm. While there will be general seating available, guests are free to bring their own or a blanket. While dressing up is a part of the fun, especially the hat, jeans, shorts, sports coats, and casual slacks are all well within dress code. Rain or shine the event will go on, so be sure to check the weather before making your way out. Blackberg Ranch is located at 1980 Sally Avenue in Watertown. General admission is $20, and children 14 and under are free admission.

So get out, have fun, and enjoy this once a year charity event. And remember: Don’t forget the hat.

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