If you’ve never been to a polo match before, this might be your chance. Epworth Children & Family Services holds its 16th annual charity polo tournament on Saturday, June 11, at Blue Heron Farms. “The animals are so spectacular and the speed is amazing,” says Epworth board chair Amy Berg. “It’s very physical for the riders and the horses, as well—it’s really beautiful to watch.”

    The event also includes a slew of family-friendly activities, with wagon rides drawn by Belgian horses, face painting, barbecue and drinks, all starting at 3 p.m. The match begins at 4 p.m. Admission is only $25 per car at the gate. The event is considered more a ‘friend-raiser’ than a fundraiser, Berg notes. “Friends I’ve brought in the past still come and now they bring their own friends,” she says. “It’s a neat venue for getting to know a little bit about Epworth.” She adds that although the match shows off a high quality of talent from the U.S. and Argentina, it’s also accessible for people who aren’t familiar with the game. “Most of the people have never seen a polo match, and the announcer does a great job of explaining and talking everyone through the terms.”

    The matchup this year is Blue Heron Farms vs. Wells Fargo Advisors. “Partnering with Epworth for the polo match is great for both of us,” says Kevin Whitehead of Wells Fargo Advisors. “The venue is great for us to entertain clients and also for us to come out and spend the day watching polo, and of course, it benefits a great cause. We are very appreciative of this partnership and we look forward to continuing the relationship.”

    Blue Heron Farms owner Billy Busch says the event has been highly attended in past years, with between 500 and 1,000 people. “It’s a fast, fun and competitive game,” Busch notes. “It’s one of the best polo games we host in the summer; it has a lot of elite players in it—some of the top players in the world.” He and his wife Christi have been affiliated with Epworth for about 20 years and have hosted the event since its inception. “Epworth really is a wonderful organization that does a lot to get kids to become successful and brings families back together.”

     Epworth runs a wide variety of programs for children up to age 25, all geared toward helping youth become capable of becoming fully independent members of society. Programs include Youth Emergency Service (YES), an emergency shelter; a Residential Treatment Program in Webster Groves for teens facing an emotional, behavioral or mental crisis; a Transitional Living Program in University City that includes training in life skills such as budgeting, parenting or job readiness; and an Aging Out Initiative that provides support for youth ages 16 to 25 who are aging out of foster care. The new Street Outreach Services program connects homeless youth with resources so they can get off the street. Berg sums it up: “It’s a great place for kids who are stuck out there on their own.”  LN

On the Cover: The 16th annual charity polo match to benefit Epworth Children & Family Services is on Saturday, June 11, at Blue Heron Farms Polo Club, 4020 Benne Road in Defiance. Admission is $25 per car at the gate. For details, call 961-5718 or visit epworth.org.

Cover design by Erica Fisher. Cover photo by Jason Mueller