Jousting combatants spear suspended rings instead of each other

August 14, 2010|By MARIE GILBERT
  • Bradley Enfield of Keedysville has his eye on the third ring during the Pro Class jousting competition Saturday at Fairplay Days.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

FAIRPLAY -- Forget the suits of armor and metal helmets.

The modern-day Lancelot prefers the J. Crew look -- jeans and a T-shirt.

Gone, too, is the violence, with riders opting to spear rings instead of each other.

This is 21st-century jousting, where participants battle for trophies instead of kingdoms.

And if you visit Old Tilghmanton Tournament Woods Sunday, you'll see firsthand what it's all about.

A jousting tournament hosted by the Western Maryland Jousting Club is one of several offerings at this weekend's Fairplay Days. The event also features a car show, vendors and food.

A fundraiser for the District 12 Ruritan Club, the festival continues Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Greg Culler, an event organizer and Ruritan president, said Fairplay Days annually draws about 2,000 people.

"There's been a festival at this location since 1967," he said.

Culler said jousting was held during the 1920s and 1930s at the park, which originally was known as Tournament Woods. But several years passed when the park was not used and it became a trash dump.


Eventually, he said, the District 12 Ruritan Club bought the land, cleared out the debris and put up a pavilion.

Since then, the service club has sponsored a festival, Culler said. The first event featured soups cooked in large kettles.

Over the years, the festival has continued to build, he said, including the return of jousting.

But it's not the only attraction. Culler said people also come for the food and hand-dipped ice cream.

Children's activities also are offered, such as an inflatable bounce and a watermelon seed spitting contest for ages 12 and under at 2 p.m.

"It's a nice place for the family to come and spend the day," Culler said. "It's a real family-friendly event."

Proceeds from Fairplay Days go back into the community, Culler said.

Money is used to maintain the wooded park, as well as provide scholarships for local students and food for those who are having trouble making ends meet. In the last few months, Culler said six $100 gift cards were distributed to area families.

"We're not taking the money and keeping it," he said. "We're putting it right back into the community. We're totally nonprofit. That's why it's important to get people here this weekend."

Miles and Janet Fintley were among the festival-goers on Saturday. The Shepherdstown, W.Va., couple said it was perfect weather to be outdoors, so they decided to attend Fairplay Days.

"With the hot summer we've had, this is a wonderful day," Janet Fintley said. "And to make it even more wonderful, we're taking home some food so I don't have to cook."

If you go

What: Fairplay Days

When: Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Old Tilghmanton Tournament Woods, Fairplay

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