Tournament of the Phoenix this weekend
By Emily Sorensen
Travel back in time this weekend and experience jousting, horseback riding and history come alive during the 2012 Tournament of the Phoenix, returning to Poway Friday, Oct. 26 through Sunday, Oct. 28 at the Poway Valley Riders Association grounds, 14336 Tierra Bonita Road, Poway.
Originally known as the WorldJoust Tournaments, the first was held in October of 2007, right after the Witch Creek fires that devastated this area.
“We thought the fires would defeat us, but instead we have risen, Phoenix-like, from the flames,” said English competitor Dominic Sewell, and the tournament was renamed.
The tournament was founded by a Ramona couple, Jeffrey Hedgecock and his wife, Gwen Nowrick, after Hedgecock became involved in playing polo in Poway and connected with the Poway Valley Riders Association (PVRA). After the PVRA learned he jousted, they suggested he start a jousting tournament in Poway, and the WorldJoust Tournament was born.
Hedgecock was no stranger to medieval times when he began jousting 10 years ago. He has made armor and other historical objects for 25 years, and has been riding horses for 16 years.
“Jousting is a growing sport,” said Hedgecock. “It’s most popular in England and Europe.” He estimated that there are about 200 to 300 jousters in the world, with about a quarter of that number competing on a high level, like the Tournament of the Phoenix.
This year’s tournament marshal is Mike Loades, a director of historical television shows, and also the man who started modern jousting in the 1970s. “He’s probably the most experienced jouster on the planet,” said Hedgecock.
Six knights, Steve Mallett, Tobias Capwell and Sean George, all from the United Kingdom; Luc Petillot from France; Marcus Hamel from Quebec, Canada; and Hedgecock, will battle it out for top place in the tournament. An equestrian triathlon, the tournament will test the combatants’ prowess and stamina as they pit themselves against each other in six events over the two-day competition. Events include foot combat with axes, mounted melee, and four sessions of jousting. This is a competitive sporting event, not a reenactment or theatrical joust. “This is a real sporting event,” said Hedgecock. “Nothing is choreographed.”
The tournament also features a Skill-at-Arms tournament, in which eight West Coast competitors show off their skill with the lance, swords, spears and other weaponry as they accumulate points in nine events over three days. While smaller competitions and demonstrations of skill-at-arms have been held before, this year is the first a full competition will be held. The participants will have to show their accuracy, hunting skills and martial skills. “It’s an individual test of skill,” said Hedgecock.
Attendees can also enjoy the Festival of History, which accompanies the tournament, with the historical time frame spanning from Ancient Rome to the Renaissance. Authentically armored gladiators will give two demonstrations a day. There will also be a glasswork exhibit, pony rides and a petting zoo from Zoo4You, local artisans selling their wares, and eight registered charities.
Last year’s tournament drew 3,000 spectators, and Hedgecock is hoping for between 3,000 and 5,000 this year. “The trick is getting people there. Once they’re there, they’re hooked,” said Hedgecock. “Once people have seen it once, they want to come back year after year.”
Friday is Preview Day, and runs from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., with the competition on Saturday and Sunday running 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tickets for Friday’s preview are $12 each. Saturday and Sunday are $22 adults, $19 seniors, children 5-12, active military with ID and students. A one-day family four-pack of tickets for Saturday or Sunday are $75.
For tickets and more information, visit www.tournamentofthephoenix.com.
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