KINGS VALLEY — Lances shattered. Horse hooves churned dry soil into clouds of blowing dust. Knights, armor gleaming in the sun, swung swords and threw spears.
The jousting at this year’s Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire in Kings Valley was as dramatic as ever for the audience. But for one of the knights, the two-day event gave him an opportunity that was unique in decades of competitions.
“This is my first time jousting in my home state and I am just delighted,” said Ripper Moore, who lives in Dexter near Eugene.
Moore said he got his start in jousting in 1995 when he was helping a friend move. One of the other people helping with the move commented that he could lift heavy things well and asked if he was interested in getting involved in a jousting troupe.
“I kind of fell into it,” he said. “What little boy doesn’t want to be a knight in shining armor? I didn’t know you actually could.”
After a year of training, he was offered a job.
“I took a deep breath, quit my day job and went on the road,” he said.
Moore said he’s done jousting professionally ever since, but this weekend at Shrewsbury was the first time he’s done a show in Oregon.
“Most of my contacts are on the East Coast,” he said.
Moore did two competitions on both Saturday and Sunday with Knights of Mayhem at Shrewsbury, an Elizabethan renaissance event that has been held annually for more than two decades.
Charlie Andrews, captain of the Knights of Mayhem, said the group does hundreds of shows a year all over the country.
Moore said he can be on the road as much as nine months a year.
“The life of a jousting knight is a life of travel,” he said.
Moore said the career has its challenges, but there are many moments that make it worthwhile: he recalled the first time he shattered a lance in a joust as an example of that.
"I felt myself pushed back in the saddle and I came up and I was still in the saddle and it was just awesome,” he said.
He added that before a joust he is always nervous.
“I’m always worrying about what could go wrong and what I want to go right,” he said. “If I ever get blasé about it, it probably wouldn’t be as fun.”
The competitions are not staged, he said, the competitors legitimately get scored on things like whether they shatter a lance or unhorse their opponent.
“There is nothing set up. Every single joust I’m trying to unseat him and he’s trying to unseat me,” he said.
Andrews said this is the first year the Knights of Mayhem have performed at Shrewsbury, and they are scheduled to be back next year.
Jackie Hughes, organizer of Shrewsbury for the last nine years, said the event drew more than 10,000 people over the weekend. She said the joust and the chance to learn about history through re-enactment are big reasons people attend.
Around 1,000 people participate as volunteers in costume.
“Those 1,000 participants, after all these years, have become family. I love teaching history through the faire, but it’s also a family reunion,” she said.