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Polo cup celebrates Barrington Hills’ equestrian roots

Spectators LeCompte Kalaway Landowners Cup Saturday Sept. 14 were treated demonstratirunning hounds between matches. | CynthiWolf/For Sun-Times Media

Spectators at the LeCompte Kalaway Landowners Cup on Saturday, Sept. 14, were treated to a demonstration of the running of the hounds between matches. | Cynthia Wolf/For Sun-Times Media

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The winners

Battle of the Sexes

The ladies, sponsored by Quintessential Barrington, triumphed over the gentlemen, sponsored by Wickstrom Auto Group

Winning teammates: Devan Groves, Janet Ratajczak, Tess Sabatini, Regina Sabatini, Heather Khan, Kim Monreal and Samantha Falbe

LeCompte/Kalaway Landowners Cup (a three-team competition)

Chronos Consulting was the winner over the Harrington Family and Medieval Times

Winning teammates: Megan West, Tony Natale, Joan-Carlos Brugue, Dean Regas

Hat Contest

First place: Gretchen Von Hess, Barrington Hills

Second place: Team Tina (including Tina Brasher, Greer McMurray, and Gail Darrah of Hoffman Estates, and Erin Kast of Wheaton)

Third place: Jill McCrae, Grayslake

Tailgate Area Decorating Contest

First place: Jessica Underwood and Brent Burval, Barrington Hills

Second place: Kemp family, Barrington Hills

Third place: Mike and Ellen Quaas, Arlington Heights

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Updated: November 16, 2013 2:46AM

Ann Alberts pulled back the lid of an elegant silver serving tray to reveal a large roasted turkey as a group of friends added dish after dish to a long food table near the polo tent at Oakwood Farms.

Alberts owns a catering company called Soup’s On! But Saturday was not about work. Alberts and a group of longtime friends were among the thousands of people celebrating the ninth annual LeCompte Kalaway Landowners Cup in Barrington Hills.

Celebrating in style was all part of the fun. The day included polo matches, a ladies’ hat contest and tailgate-area decorating contests as well as dressage exhibitions and a running of the hounds demonstration.

For the first time in the event’s history, Medieval Times also sent a crew, members of which delighted event-goers with their elaborate costumes as well as horsemanship and jousting skills.

The event was open to the public. But the key contingent consisted of the landowners for whom the event takes place.

“The premise of the event is to really thank the landowners and the trail owners of Barrington Hills,” said Jeff Hensel, a polo player who also is a member of the event marketing committee. “Barrington Hills wants to maintain its equestrian heritage. A big part of that are the trails that go through Barrington Hills.

“You can literally ride to everyone’s home in Barrington Hills, because of the trail system they keep open.”

Joan and Bob Abboud were among the dozens of landowners enjoying the luncheon in a large tent along the polo field. The Abbouds have lived in Barrington Hills since 1969.

“We love doing that,” she said of providing trail passage across their land along Braeburn Road on the northwest corner of Barrington Hills. “We love having the horses come through. Bob really works on the trail. He clears it all of the time.”

Linda Adair and Cathy Keady were the event co-organizers. Linda’s husband, Bill, who is president of the Riding Club of Barrington Hills, said he and his wife bought 10 acres along Old Sutton Road in 2001, and discovered a map on their tack room wall. It showed the trail system, which traverses roughly 200 miles. It was an amenity of which they had been unaware.

“We went from going ‘What is this map on the wall?’ to today,” he said. “The riding club is 76 years old. It predates the existence of Barrington Hills, and the people who founded the riding club were the people who envisioned what this village is about.”

The polo event continued throughout the afternoon at the farm on Bateman Road. General admission was $15, or $150 for a tailgating spot.

The event does generate some revenue through sponsorships, admission sales and program advertisements. However, much of the proceeds covers overhead, including garbage, portable toilets and security services for the ever-growing event, Hensel said.

Tent after tent and group after group gathered all along the southern edge of the expansive polo field, which is nine times the size of a football field. Themes included moustache mania, Native American homage, Ralph Lauren, Halloween hijinks and more.

Among the notables taking it all in was Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board president. A good portion of the Barrington Hills equestrian trail system goes through Cook County Forest Preserve land.

Wearing a Gloucestor Polo Club shirt, Patti Fahey of Barrington Hills said she wouldn’t miss the LeCompte Kalaway, which is named for the LeCompte family, which owns Oakwood Farms, and posthumously for Ben Kalaway, a longtime leader in the equestrian community.

“It’s a beautiful event,” said Fahey, a former riding club board member.

“I think it’s awesome,” added her friend Emily McHugh, chairman of the Barrington Hills Equestrian Commission. “I think it’s the only and certainly the largest event that pulls Barrington Hills together for a social gathering.”

Mike McMorris and his young daughter, Isabella, of Fox River Grove, also took the festivities in from along the southern field edge, where Isabella had found a rocking horse to her liking.

“I have a 7-year-old who is in the Fox River Valley pony club,” the dad said. “This is a very family friendly event. It’s always nice weather and it’s a great day to catch up with friends you haven’t seen in awhile.”

The Riding Club of Barrington Hills and the Barrington Hills Polo Club were event co-hosts. Teams included Quintessential Barrington, Wickstrom Auto Group, the Harrington Family, Medieval Times and Chronos Consulting.

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