- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2006

CROWNSVILLE, Md. — Monday through Friday, Paul Schneider wears a hard hat and steel-toed boots to work as a crane operator.

But on the past few weekends, he has donned leggings, an armor suit and a feathered helmet to battle knights on the field of honor.

Mr. Schneider is one of about a dozen performers who joust and duel in a sandy amphitheater four times a day at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, which re-creates a 16-century English village.

For the men who put on 90 pounds of armor plating, mount their trusted steeds and charge full-gallop at each other with lances, the reason for jousting is simple.

“What kid didn’t want to be a knight in shining armor?” says Tim Sampson, a weekend warrior who jousts under the nom de guerre Sir Trystan of Anglesea.

Jousters risk injury from shattered wooden lances, skittish horses, unplanned falls — and sometimes overzealous spectators wanting to test their mettle.

Mr. Sampson, or Sir Trystan, sports a gold tooth where a molar should be, the result of an ill-timed contact during a performance.

In many ways, the jousting matches at the festival are conducted as they were in days of old.

Squires tend to the horses and repair the heavy armor as knights rest from their exertions between contests.

And all conversations are carried on in early modern English, with Shakespearean tones and inflections.

Jousting is the state sport of Maryland, but not the way it’s practiced here. The state sport — in which equestrians spear small rings suspended over an arena — pales in comparison.

The Maryland Renaissance Festival will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday, and Oct. 21 and 22.

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