Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Knight Moves 

The Great Lakes Medieval Faire

The Great Lakes Medieval Faire
  • The Great Lakes Medieval Faire
Guessing the outcome of full-contact jousting is like working a physics story problem: Two 1,800-pound animals carrying steel-clad riders with lances approach each other at 20 miles per hour. When one rider strikes the other, will the lance bounce off the armor, break into splinters, or knock the victim to kingdom come?

"We joust the way they did it during Elizabeth's reign [1558-1603]," says Gregg Oatley, who jousts with the New Riders of the Golden Age at fairs around the country, including this summer's Great Lakes Medieval Faire near Geneva. "The difference between this and a staged joust is the difference between real football and flag football. Companies that do staged jousting use presawed lances. Ours are solid wood."

For protection, the warriors wear full suits of custom-made armor, including the manteau d'arms, a steel plate that guards the target area of the chest, and the buff plate, which covers the chin and stops just below the eyes. The armor weighs more than 100 pounds, making everything -- moving, falling, and in some cases even seeing -- a challenge. Jousting strategies include striking the opponent in the manteau to break the lance or trying the more difficult buff shot, which is an attempt to lift the enemy knight off his horse.

"I don't care who you are, everyone gets knocked off," Oatley says. "I got knocked down twice last year. This year I've been down four times already, and the season is almost half over."

At 31, Oatley is a nine-year veteran of the battlefield. His experience gives him an edge, but competitors, at an average age of 23, have youth on their side. "Most guys have an injury that ends their career," Oatley says. "Sometimes guys are great until they've been injured, and then they become gun-shy.

"I had my fifth annual retirement party last year," he jokes. "I've been saying I should quit, but I keep coming back, because I simply love it."

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Speaking of Highlights

More by Michael Gill

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 5, 2022

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation