Why it is Jousting, of course, with parades and Queens and “the whole 9 yards”and I was just informed the next Maryland Annual State Jousting Championship is coming up.
It is being held on October 1st at Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds, located at 1450 Generals Hgwy in Crownsville. The Championship has been an annual event in Maryland since 1950. It faded for a period in the early 1980’s but after the Civil War, it’s popularity grew.
Jousting , believe it or not, has been a sport with tournaments held since Colonial Days. There is much pageantry involved, male riders are “knights” and female riders are “maids”. All, men, women and children compete on an equal basis, their skill with their horse determines their class.
These are not the violent ,bloody tournaments we see in the movies, where Knights clad in heavy armor, with a fence between them, ride at break-neck speed, trying to pierce the other’s heart with a lance that looks too heavy for even “Arnold” to hold up. No, these are your peaceful, gentle neighbors charging a galloping horse down a path about 80 feet in length with no opposition.
They pass through 3 arches, a ring suspended from each at 6 feet-nine inches above the path. The rings have to be plucked from the holder using a light weight, wooden lance with a finely pointed tip. The diameter of the holes in the rings is determined by the skill of the rider and ranges from as little as ¼ inch to an inch wide.
My earliest recollection of one of these rides of horsemanship and skill was in 1941 at the tournament held at St. Stephen church in Bradshaw MD. One of the riders was Mary Lou Bartram (whom I believe is still involved in the sport). I was just 11 years old at the time and remember the master of ceremonies calling out one of the Fleury boys as Knight of Woodbine (the name of their farm) and then he said “Charge Sir Knight!”.
Before 1950, Jousting was popular in many parts of Maryland but there were no official rules and regulations . After their 2nd meeting, they organized a few rules, took a dollar from everyone present and they were off to the races, so to speak.
In our teen years, we went to quite a few carnivals held by the churches and fraternal organizations in the lands about Kingsville, Long Green and yes, even Bradshaw. There we encountered these Knights and Maids demonstrating their prowess with a lance, astride thundering hoofs of their noble steeds.
It was loads of fun then and I am sure it is still a “hoot”. It’s bound to be a nice day on October First . The leaves will be dressed in their Fall best by then, so why not a trip down to Crownsville to see what the Colonials saw in one of the last vestiges of the Knights-of-old when men were bold. Charge!