Arguably one of the oldest sports in history, the art of jousting will again make its annual appearance in the central Valley.
The sport, which peaked in popularity during the Middle Ages, originally featured knights attempting to unhorse each other. The modern version, however, will task riders with capturing rings in a given amount of time — still on horseback, but sans the chainmail.
The event will begin at 11 a.m. June 21 at the Natural Chimneys Regional Park and Campground in Mount Solon.
“A lot of people in the area don’t really know what jousting is, or have never been to a jousting event,” said Rhonda Casady, longtime member of the Natural Chimneys Jousting Club.
“It’s such a fun, family-oriented sporting event.”
Each of the nearly 50 expected competitors will be given eight seconds to cross an 80-yard track and pass through a series of arches before using their lance to nab as many hanging circular rings as possible.
The riders will be divided into four skill classes: novice, amateur, semi-professional and professional.
Those competing as novices will accumulate rings 1-and-¾-inches in diameter, whereas more advanced riders will capture those of ¼-inch.
Horses often reach speeds as high as 35 mph during trial runs. Terry Casady, president of the Natural Chimneys Jousting Club, says most professional competitors complete the course, on average, in six seconds.
“To me, it’s amazing to see the speed of the horses and the way the rider and horse have to work together in order to get it done,” said Casady, a self-proclaimed lifelong jouster.
“You have 100-percent faith in that horse while you concentrate on catching rings.”
Casady maintains that the event will be “truly remarkable” for those planning to attend the first time.
In addition to the tournament, a Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held during the parade scheduled for noon.
The event will also feature craft and food vendors, as well as a corn hole tournament at 5 p.m.
Tickets cost $2 at the gate; $5 per car load.
Those interested in competing are asked to bring their own horses.
Contact Matt Gonzales at (540) 574-6265 or firstname.lastname@example.org