Shirley Plantation Hosts Colonial Polo Cup Fundraiser Sunday, October 8, 2006

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Changing the world with a sea of white tents and polo parties at Virginia’s oldest plantation.

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Located along the James River between Richmond and Williamsburg, is one of the most important places in America.

Established in 1613, Shirley Plantation is the oldest plantation in Virginia and America’s oldest family-owned business (established 1638). Today, the property and its majestic Great House are open to the public, offering visitors the story of 11 generations of the Carter family, who continue to own and operate this National Historic Landmark property.

On Sunday, October 8, Shirley Plantation will make history of a different sort, when it again hosts the annual Colonial Polo Cup. Presented since 2004 by the Williamsburg Kiwanis Foundation, the tax-exempt arm of the Kiwanis Club of Williamsburg, the Colonial Polo Cup has raised nearly $100,000 for regional youth, arts, and community programs.

Regarded as “the party of the season,” Kiwanis Club president and event co-chair Larry Murphy states that the Colonial Polo Cup has grown steadily, from 2,500 attendees its first year to over 4,800 in 2005.

“The Colonial Polo Cup is the most successful fundraising event in the 48-year history of our club,” Murphy says. “It’s a great time for a great cause, in a beautiful, historic location; what could be better than that?”

Murphy also notes that the event supports the mission of the Kiwanis Club’s parent organization, Kiwanis International: “Changing the world one child and one community at a time.”

The October 8 charity match takes place on Shirley Plantation’s lush polo grounds, home to the Shirley Plantation Polo Club whose president, Tayloe Dameron, arranges the players for the Colonial Polo Cup. This year, Team Mercedes-Benz, sponsored by Tysinger Mercedes-Benz in Hampton, will play Team Budweiser SELECT, sponsored by Kingsmill Resort and Spa in Williamsburg, an Anheuser-Busch Company.

“While it’s always special to play at Shirley Plantation, polo takes on a whole new significance when we know we are helping to raise money for such a worthy cause as helping children,” says Dameron. “Plus, it’s wonderful to see so many people just having fun.”

And, “fun” is the operative word here. If you ask prior attendees about the Colonial Polo Cup, you are likely to hear two things. First, they had a great time. And, second, they have no recollection of who won.

While the players are very competitive and play their hearts out to win the Cup, the outcome of this match is a bit different. Because of the tens of thousands of dollars that the Williamsburg Kiwanis Foundation donates to youth and community programs from the annual event’s proceeds, children are the true winners of this event, no matter the score.

The daylong party also includes a presentation of the hounds, a visit with Budweiser Clydesdales from Busch Gardens Williamsburg, a parade, replete with grand marshal President Jefferson, and a performance by the Williamsburg Field Musick Fifes and Drums. Shopping the Colonial Polo Boutique, contests (e.g. Best Hat, Best Tailgate, and Best Corporate Sponsor Tent theme), door prizes, and people-watching make this a fun-for-all Sunday ‘in the country.’

Gates open at 10:00 a.m. with a parade/opening ceremony at 12 noon. The polo match is at 1:00 p.m. followed by ‘Chukker VII,’ the post-match party from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Food and beverages are available for purchase or bring your own. No pets allowed. Event is on, rain or shine.            

General admission tickets are $20 in advance, $25 day of, at the gate. Parking is included; bring your own chair. Guided tours of Shirley’s Great House are available. Call 1-800-232-1613 or go to

For more information about the Colonial Polo Cup go to or call

757-873-7333. The fourth annual Colonial Polo Cup will be September 30, 2007.


Julie Murphy


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