HAMMOND, La. - What do you get when you mix a pair of one-ton horses decorated in royal garb, two courageous knights prepared for battle and a rowdy crowd ready for hilarious antics and heroic horsemanship? Renaissance Festival jousting of course!
One of the most popular events at the Louisiana Ren Fest happens twice a day and you'll want to put it on your 'must-see' list when you enter the historic English village of Albright, any weekend day between now and December 9th (and Friday, November 23rd).
WGNO's Travel Girl, Stephanie Oswald, spoke with two of the brave knights after their first performance in Louisiana for the 2019 season to gather some insight on how the shows are run. You may be surprised to learn that while there are some scripted parts, the winner of the actual joust is never predetermined.
"It's an overwhelming experience," says Mark Desmond, who appears in the jousting arena as Sir Marcus Desmond.
"I feel like a rock star and I feel like these people believe in me," he adds, noting that the jousting show is different every time, depending on the crowd and the performers.
His opponent, Sir Christopher Hatton (Thomas Buckley in real life), explains that knowing how to ride is key to success for a jousting competitor.
"In our production, riding is the first and foremost and the most important aspect of the show. Whichever man can ride their steed better through the other man is going to reign supreme, and if you can't ride at all then you're going to lose," Hatton says.
On this particular day, there was riding, lancing, a sword fight on horseback and then a ground fight. In the end, Sir Christopher dealt with what he describes as "the salty taste of defeat."
Jousting began in the early middle ages and was a chance for people to escape the struggle of their daily lives. It can provide an escape for today's audience too: it's a time to laugh, cheer and learn a little history while you're at it.