The Tournament of the Inland Empire returns to the Clayton Community Fairgrounds with challenges aplenty! From traditional archery and mounted horse games to jousting with the Knights Under The Lights. Come cheer on your favorite hero and learn about these medieval games.
The Epona Equestrian Team has been holding the Tournament of the Inland Empire at the Clayton Rodeo Grounds since 2016, aside from a two-year hiatus for COVID precautions. Even though this is the fifth year for this event, it remains one of the best-kept secrets in the Spokane/Stevens county communities. Find out what you’ve been missing this weekend, June 4th-5th.
Another little-known fact about this team of eight extraordinary athletes is that half of them are women. The women of Epona are not, as some might expect, mere damsels in distress. They are, however, warriors in their own right and compete toe to toe with their male counterparts. These ladies participate in a variety of different physical feats, from archery to mounted skill-at-arms and jousting.
Alex Johnson-Tull is one of these brave ladies. Her favorite event is the horse-mounted skill-at-arms. “I think what surprised me the most is how good of a horsewoman it made me in such a short time. Being able to keep up with other riders who have been riding consistently since they were little kids is a nice feeling especially since I felt so behind my peers when I first started.” said Johnson-Tull. She finds it easier for her and her horse to stay engaged due to the variety of the obstacles and possible arrangement formations.
Sarah Compogno also enjoys the horse melee and skill at arms but finds jousting has captured her heart. “There is so much history behind the sport. Also being on a horse in armor is a plus.” said Compogno when asked what she loved about her chosen sport. “When you are running down the tilt on your horse and you break your lance on your opponent it’s like hitting a home run every single time.”
Compogno said she was surprised at how other jousters can make the sport look almost effortless when that is not the case. “It is a full contact sport that is not for the faint of heart. You must have good control of your horse and be able to lower your eleven foot lance that somehow, magically gets heavier [with] each stride your horse takes.”
All the Epona Equestrian Team members try to practice at least three times a week throughout the year, modifying to lighter practice in the winter for the sake of their horses. It’s clear that these sports are not mere hobbies for their participants but very much a part of who they are as individuals.
When you come to the tournament, you can expect to catch a glimpse of medieval bravery and skill. Not only does this serve as competition for the contestants and their trusty steeds but also a learning experience for audiences. Compogno said, “[Jousting] gets you pumped up and your adrenaline going. You don’t have to be riding to enjoy jousting either. I love watching other people joust and seeing their love for the sport.”
This is the first event of the year for the Epona Equestrian team; from here, they will go on to perform for the Sandpoint Renaissance Faire on June 11th – 12th.
Visit facebook.com/inlandjousting to learn more, or contact the group with questions.