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It's downright medieval: Jousting 'knights' face off at Three County Fair

  • Tom Mader, right, engages fellow "knights" Scott Wilson, left, and Patrick Neill in a melee to conclude a renaissance joust staged by the Hole in the Wall Farm in Xenia, Ohio, Sunday at the Three County Fair in Northampton.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Tom Mader, right, engages fellow "knights" Scott Wilson, left, and Patrick Neill in a melee to conclude a renaissance joust staged by the Hole in the Wall Farm in Xenia, Ohio, Sunday at the Three County Fair in Northampton.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • "Knights" Scott Wilson, left, and Patrick Neill from Hole in the Wall Farm in Xenia, Ohio, take part in a renaissance joust at the Three County Fair in Northampton on Sunday. Wilson scored highest on the best of three passes to advance to the final round. In its time, jousting was a spectator sport developed as peace time training for knights and horses alike.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    "Knights" Scott Wilson, left, and Patrick Neill from Hole in the Wall Farm in Xenia, Ohio, take part in a renaissance joust at the Three County Fair in Northampton on Sunday. Wilson scored highest on the best of three passes to advance to the final round. In its time, jousting was a spectator sport developed as peace time training for knights and horses alike.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • "Dame" Kim Mader from Hole in the Wall Farm, an animal rescue enterprise in Xenia, Ohio, readies for a renaissance joust aboard her mount, "Bud", Sunday at the Three County Fair in Northampton.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    "Dame" Kim Mader from Hole in the Wall Farm, an animal rescue enterprise in Xenia, Ohio, readies for a renaissance joust aboard her mount, "Bud", Sunday at the Three County Fair in Northampton.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • "Knights" Scott Wilson, left, and Patrick Neill from Hole in the Wall Farm in Xenia, Ohio, take part in a renaissance joust at the Three County Fair in Northampton on Sunday. Wilson scored highest on the best of three passes to advance to the final round. In its time, jousting was a spectator sport developed as peace time training for knights and horses alike.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    "Knights" Scott Wilson, left, and Patrick Neill from Hole in the Wall Farm in Xenia, Ohio, take part in a renaissance joust at the Three County Fair in Northampton on Sunday. Wilson scored highest on the best of three passes to advance to the final round. In its time, jousting was a spectator sport developed as peace time training for knights and horses alike.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Tom Mader, right, engages fellow "knights" Scott Wilson, left, and Patrick Neill in a melee to conclude a renaissance joust staged by the Hole in the Wall Farm in Xenia, Ohio, Sunday at the Three County Fair in Northampton.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • "Knights" Scott Wilson, left, and Patrick Neill from Hole in the Wall Farm in Xenia, Ohio, take part in a renaissance joust at the Three County Fair in Northampton on Sunday. Wilson scored highest on the best of three passes to advance to the final round. In its time, jousting was a spectator sport developed as peace time training for knights and horses alike.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • "Dame" Kim Mader from Hole in the Wall Farm, an animal rescue enterprise in Xenia, Ohio, readies for a renaissance joust aboard her mount, "Bud", Sunday at the Three County Fair in Northampton.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • "Knights" Scott Wilson, left, and Patrick Neill from Hole in the Wall Farm in Xenia, Ohio, take part in a renaissance joust at the Three County Fair in Northampton on Sunday. Wilson scored highest on the best of three passes to advance to the final round. In its time, jousting was a spectator sport developed as peace time training for knights and horses alike.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

Jousting is a medieval sport in which knights on horseback charge toward one another and try to break a lance on their opponent. General Manager Bruce Shallcross predicted that for most fairgoers, it would be a novelty. “You try and find stuff that’s different — that you don’t see around here,” Shallcross said of planning fair entertainment.

At Sunday’s noon show — the first jousting event of the fair — visitors packed the stands and lined the gate of the Arena Building as riders in knightly armor faced off. Squires, or groundskeepers, were also dressed in medieval garb as they cleared the dirt path between rounds and ensured the safety of the jousters.

Between rounds, Queen’s “We Will Rock You” boomed from speakers as jouster Kim Nader, or “Dame Kim,” tried to get the audience to clap and cheer along.

“Come on guys, you got to get noisy,” Nader called from her horse as two other jousters prepared to fight. “Let’s get them excited when they get in there.”

Though the jousters were in friendly competition, the audience applauded no matter whose lance broke against whose shield.

“This is educational entertainment,” said jouster Scott “Sir Scott” Wilson, who works with a company based in Xenia, Ohio. “That’s what we’re doing.”

Wilson, 47, of Laurel, Miss., said he had been interested in medieval fighting and knighthood since he was a little kid. When friends invited him to a jousting clinic in Texas five years ago, he already owned the armor. Now, he said, he’s competed at the international level.

Jouster Tom “Sir Tom” Nader — Kim’s husband — said he had studied martial arts since grade school, and became interested in jousting after attending a renaissance festival at age 19. “I went to my first renaissance festival and thought, ‘I could live here,’” said Tom Nader, now 42, of Greenville, Ohio. He began taking horseback riding lessons from Kim, who was then his riding coach. He then learned to joust mainly by reading history books and through trial and error, he said.

Kim Nader, 39, who has been riding horses since the age of 3, said she started jousting again this season after having been away from it for three years. Coming back, she said, wasn’t that bad, given her long history riding of horses.

“I don’t think about the horse. I just focus on hitting the other guy,” she said.

Meanwhile, fairgoers braved the heat and humidity to enjoy the regular exhibits such as the rides, carnival games and a monster truck show. For many guests, especially those who live locally, the Three County Fair is a family tradition.

José Cruz of South Hadley won an inflatable Iron Man-themed prize after throwing a baseball at a target and guessing its speed — 45 miles per hour.

Cruz, who is 39 and originally from Northampton, said he has been coming to the fair since he was 9 and comes back to bring his daughter, Elanna, 13, and son Mason, 4.

Sarah Hougen, of Northampton, said she lives within walking distance of the fairgrounds. For three years relatives from the Boston area have come to visit the fair with her and her 8-year-old daughter, Holland.

“My kid likes it,” she said as she watched Holland come down a big yellow “Fun Slide.” “And I enjoy it for the most part,” she said, though admitting she is not a fan of the rides.

Dave LaFontain, of Leeds, whose 13-year-old daughter Julia won a purple inflatable alien at a game where she had to ring a bell with a hammer, said he has been coming to the fair since he was 5 and now comes with his four children. “It’s kind of a tradition,” he said over the noise of monster trucks in the nearby grandstands.

Also roaming the fairgrounds were clowns from the Melha Shriners in Springfield. Chris “Chow” Howe, of Greenfield, said that while some children are afraid of clowns, it sometimes helps when he bends down to their level and speaks with them. It also helped that his 11-year-old son, Tucker was with him. While father was in full clown make-up, the son wore painted eyebrows.

Joel “Jewls” Miller, of Pittsfield, said that even with the humidity, he and the other clowns didn’t have to worry about make-up coming off. “We can go swimming with this stuff on,” Miller said.

Around 7,000 visitors were counted on Saturday — about a 15 percent drop from the year before, Shallcross said, which he attributed to thunderstorms in the area Sunday.

“Weather’s keeping some people home,” he said. “But we’re doing OK considering the weather forecast.”

The fair is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday. Tickets are $10 for visitors 12 and older, $8 for seniors and veterans, and free for children 11 and under.

There will be two more jousting matches in the Arena Building Monday at 12:30 and 4:30 p.m.

Related

Three County Fair sees its crowds dip  due to stormy Labor Day weekend weather

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

NORTHAMPTON — Even with the ground wet and storm clouds overhead, monster truck shows, knights in full armor and a magic show were among popular attractions that helped draw crowds to this year’s Three County Fair. “The weather didn’t cooperate too much, but the fair went good,” said its general manager, Bruce Shallcross. Compared to last year, attendance was down …

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