Posted: 12:00 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014

Behind the Scenes: Things To Do

Renaissance Fest hits hard with full-contact jousting

“It’s the hardest-hitting sport known to man.”


Renaissance Fest hits hard with full-contact jousting photo
Multiple world jousting champion Shane Adams will spearhead the full-contact jousting competitions at the Ohio Renaissance Festival. CONTRIBUTED

By Aaron Epple

Contributing Writer

The annual Ohio Renaissance Festival — beginning on Saturday, Aug. 30, and running until October — offers a number of familiar entertainments, like dueling swordsmen, fire jugglers and medieval-style comedy routines. But one attraction the Ohio festival offers that you won’t find at many similar events is full-contact jousting.

The difference between full contact jousting and theatrical, choreographed jousting was summed up by multiple world championship jouster Shane Adams, who said, “You’re going to get hurt, it’s just a question of ‘when’ and ‘how bad.’ ”

Adams is the team captain of the jousting troupe The Knights of Valour, which performs at fairs all over North America, and host of the History Channel reality-competition series “Full Metal Jousting.” Adams produced several competitions in his native Canada before deciding to take it abroad. He said that fair and renaissance festival audiences embraced full-contact jousting immediately.

“It’s the hardest-hitting sport known to man, because of the impact force,” he said. “You have 2,000-pound horses ridden by two 500-pound knights in full armor colliding at a combined speed of 40-50 miles per hour. The biggest, strongest football players colliding at full speed pales in comparison.”

Adams and his Knights of Valour will perform three shows on every festival day.

Oddly, Adams said that full-contact jousting is even more severe today than in medieval times.

“The old knights used lances that were made to break,” he said. “Ours are solid wood, because that crack at the point of contact really translates to the crowd. The old knights were more concerned with looking cool.”

If you attend the full-contact jousting competition at the Ohio Renaissance Festival, then you will probably see a staff of medical professionals onsite. While severe injuries are common (Adams took home a broken hand and four broken ribs along with his first world championship trophy), he said fatalities are rare.

“The last death I encountered was four years ago,” he said. “Someone was shooting a commercial and not wearing the proper equipment. You can’t do that, especially in real jousting. We even have mouthpieces, which the old knights didn’t have, and that’s prevented a lot of concussions and saved a lot of tongues.”

Adams said that people enjoy full-contact jousting for the same reasons they enjoy football and crime stories on the news: good, old-fashioned bloodthirstiness.

“It’s part of our culture,” he said. “This was what our forefathers did for entertainment. It was the Super Bowl of sports back then, and there’s no reason why it can’t still be that way. We just have to tweak it a little.”

Contact this contributing writer at

How to go

What: Ohio Renaissance Festival

Where: 10542 E. Ohio 73, Waynesville

When: 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays from Aug. 30-Oct. 19; also open on Labor Day, Sept. 1

Cost: $18.95 adults, $8.95 children (age 5-12)

More info: 513-897-7000 or

More News


Hot topics