Every year on the last Saturday of August, America’s oldest jousting tournament is held right here in Calvert County at Christ Church.
Jousting often conjures up images of Renaissance Fairs where knights in costume charge each other with heavy metal lances. I had absolutely no idea that it was a real sport let alone Maryland’s official state sport for the last 51 years.
So when the 147th annual Jousting Tournament took place this year, I was there to see the action convinced that someone would get thrown from their horse in a dramatic battle.
I wasn’t disappointed, but had been horribly wrong.
Also known as ring jousting, this individual sport is pure skill. It combines horsemanship with speed and precision as riders charge down a field attempting to spear three hanging rings from 1 3/4” to 1/4” in diameter.
If you haven’t seen this, mark your calendar now.
The announcer is a professional herself, so she does an excellent job explaining the sport as she announces the riders. They begin with the novice class, then have a parade of horses, then move to the professional class and on down the line until each group has ridden three times.
The entire event will be longer or shorter depending on how many riders are participating, but generally lasts about 3 hours. If you’re short on time, arrive a little late so that you see the professionals. Some have been riding for 45 years.
If it’s hot, you can cool down in the church where they offer free concerts. Take a walk to grab a small snack (they sold hot dogs, water, and snow cones this year) or peruse the church bazaar with crafts, baked goods, and other items for sale. Bring the kids and head over to the One Room Schoolhouse that sits on the church grounds. There’s a lot to do here.
You don’t even have to cook dinner since the church puts on a country supper. The meals are sold for a donation that supports the church.
Truly, there’s no reason not to go. Centrally located in Port Republic and free to attend, you can stop by for as little as 5 minutes or as long as 5 hours. You’ll want to stay at least two to enjoy this jousting competition that is educational, fun to see, and yet another thing that makes both Maryland and our Calvert County special.
Below is a video made from the photos of the event or if you would like to browse, download, or share the individual pictures the high resolution photos are available on our Flickr page along with the requirements for use.