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The bigger the hat, the better the party, if Sunday’s McDaniels Audi Spring Polo Invitational was any indication. Partygoers donned their finest millinery and trekked out to Hyde Park Farm & Polo Club, many with picnic baskets and lawn chairs in hand. 

Guests staked out a spot and got down to business: spreading out blankets, unfolding chairs, unpacking the picnic basket, and pouring a beverage. As the polo players trotted out to the field, the spectators chatted and ogled each other’s finery over lemonade or mint juleps. In addition to the panamas, stetsons, fedoras, and floppy hats, a number of vibrant fascinators could be spotted about the crowd, weaving their way about the food vendors and tent-lounges. 

The match kicked off with a mad stampede of hoofbeats, and partygoers’ attention gradually shifted from each other’s towering headpieces to the impressive feats happening on the field. For those who have ever witnessed a polo match before, the sport features bursts of activity and superior horsemanship. Horses and riders thundered up and down the green swinging mallets lustily, while the spectators fanned themselves and peered from beneath their hat brims. It was a beautiful Charleston Sunday, a perfect mix of sportsmanship, socializing, Southern charm, and altruism.

The Hyde Park Spring Polo Invitational benefited Rein and Shine, a local nonprofit that provides horse therapy to children and adults with special needs. Rein and Shine was founded in 2001, and strives to provide an alternative method of healing to children and adults with physical, emotional, social, and/or cognitive disabilities.