Drive-in concerts coming to Polo Club

Lead singer Martyn Jenkins performs as Freddie Mercury with Absolute Queen. The band will kick off The Villages’ drive-in concert series at The Villages Polo Club.

Acclaimed tenor Fernando Varela sees music as one of the most powerful mediums in the world, and he said The Villages knows that better than anybody.

So Varela’s arts outreach organization, Victory Productions, has partnered with The Villages Entertainment to put on a drive-in concert series at The Villages Polo Club.

The shows of the series are slated for July 20 through July 25, and tickets go on sale through The Villages Box Office on Thursday. Cost of tickets range based on the performer and are priced per car.

The series opener will be the high-energy Queen tribute group, Absolute Queen, followed by concerts featuring the Atlantic City Boys, California Transit Authority with Danny Seraphine, The Australian Bee Gees Show and Clint Black.

A sixth act will be announced soon.

“We all just want to get back to doing what we love, which is entertaining people,” Varela said.

But they’re going to do it safely.

“Each day will be a separate act and everyone will be able to watch from their car,” said Brian Russo, director of entertainment. “Golf cars will be parked on the field, based on which zone they purchased a ticket for, and will be spaced 6 feet apart. Each zone will be general admission so we can park people as quickly and safely as possible.”

In addition to these safety guidelines, cars are limited to two people each, no one will be permitted to sit outside of their car, and everyone will be required to remain in their vehicles unless they are using the restroom or getting concessions.

All restroom areas will have sanitation stations, and food trucks will follow safety guidelines as well.

Tori Hilding, The Villages Polo Club event manager, said the polo field is a good venue for the events since it is a fully open-air facility.

“We can host many outdoor events with the proper social distancing requirements needed at this time without adding to the stress of keeping everyone safe,” Hilding said. “We have 15 acres of space on each polo field to allow for large events to be held here while keeping 6 feet between each golf car.”

The event is sponsored by T&D Concrete and The Villages Golf Cars. While there will be a section for regular cars, there also will be a package that includes a golf car rental provided by The Villages Golf Cars for those who do not have one, Russo said.

The idea of hosting concerts at the polo field is something Varela and Russo had been brainstorming for a while, and they thought that now would be the perfect time to bring the idea to life.

“Where else in the world could you gather over a thousand golf cars to drive in for a concert?” Varela said. “Only in The Villages. We want to send a positive message to the nation and show we’re being responsible and careful, but still having a great time doing it.”

Varela and his team have worked tirelessly on the production elements of the concerts to create an experience people will love.

The acts will perform on a 40-by-40 stage and there will be two 20-by-20 video screens.

“We’ll have cameras on the artists like you’d see in a stadium or an arena, and ample sound coverage so it’s not too loud in any one area, but evenly covered,” Varela said. “Having produced concerts and events in The Villages for a little over 15 years now, we definitely understand our audience and what they like.”

Entertainers are eager to get back to entertaining, and audiences are eager to be entertained.

“In a time when we probably need music the most, not being able to share it has been difficult,” Varela said. “But we’re going to be safe and have a good time, which is what The Villages is all about.”

Senior writer Kristen Fiore can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5270, or kristen.fiore@thevillagesmedia.com.