Jousting through the generations: a look behind the battlefield

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Attending the jousting tournaments is a favorite tradition among festival-goers. Photo by Andrew Shepherd

Attending the jousting tournaments is a favorite tradition among festival-goers. Photo by Andrew Shepherd

By Spencer Pressly

When the Kansas City Renaissance Festival starts up, most people think of one thing: turkey legs. Now when you have that turkey leg the next thing on your list is to watch jousting.

Jousting is a tradition at the Renaissance Festival known for always drawing a crowd. If you just stop to think a minute you may wonder why anyone would ever want to dress in heavy armor and perform all day.

Jousters Jeff Horick, 45, and Dane Gambrall, 19, do not think like that.

Horick plays a character named Sir Broadrick and has been jousting all over America for the past 22 years. Gambrall, who plays Sir Joseph Loddington, is on the opposite end of the spectrum with this being his first year jousting.

Horick started his Renaissance journey in Florida back in 1990 and has been jousting ever since. Gambrall has been spending the last year training to be a jouster after a friend helped him get
the job.

“I went ahead and created a character and I had to create a character, where he came from a specific place, and there is a storyline behind it,” Horick said. “As you get in front of a crowd the character pretty much starts to create itself.”

Different shows mean different stories for each jouster and the character they represent.

“The show that [Gambrall] and I just did, he is my illegitimate son and I didn’t know he existed,” Horick explained.

Gambrall said training is all about the horse. A typical morning for a jouster includes “watering and feeding the horses, then start out with a morning ride.”

The day really begins after the first cannon is fired at 10 a.m. Then everyone involved in the festival has to stay in character until the final cannon is fired
at 7 p.m.

Jousters all over the country can lead to many different scenarios state to state.

“When we’re in Florida in the Tampa Bay area, where I’m originally from, a lot of the big time wrestlers would come out and see us joust,” Horick said, recalling memorable moments. “We were meeting guys like Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage.”

Although Gambrall has been jousting for a little over a year, he had one interesting moment during a show.

“I was doing a show with the boss of the company and just because my parents were in the crowd he made a killing bit with the hammer, and made it nice and bloody and killed me with that,” Gambrall said.

When they aren’t jousting, Horick is a fifth grade special education teacher in Ohio and Gambrall works at a grocery store. Neither expect to stop jousting anytime since they plan on doing it as long as they have fun with it.

If you ever had any interest in becoming a jouster, take a word of advice from Horick:

“It is not a matter of if you will get hurt; is it a matter of when you will get hurt,” he said.

Contact Spencer Pressly, staff reporter, at spressl2@jccc.edu.

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