Poway is one tough crowd. When a helmeted MC with a microphone asked the Poway Rodeo Grounds audience whether a Roman soldier should finish off a disarmed barbarian, crowd members yelled “No mercy!”
See attached video for the result.
So it went Saturday at the sixth annual Tournament of the Phoenix—a combat and pageantry demonstration from the Middle Ages and ancient Roman times.
The three-day event, ending Sunday, drew about 1,500 people on a warm day—which must have meant more than the usual gladiatorial misery for heavily armored contestants.
Among them were French, English, Canadian entrants — and one from Ramona: Jeffrey Hedgecock, whose role in starting the Poway event was described in 2010.
The Tournament of the Phoenix landed in Poway after Hedgecock, who plays polo at the Poway Valley Riders Association, and his wife, Gwen Nowrick, members of the Association, decided to pitch the idea to the board.
The board emphatically welcomed the opportunity and the only North American tournament of its kind was born in San Diego County.
“Produced by WorldJoust, the Tournament of the Phoenix was born in October 2007,” according to U-T San Diego. “But just days before the inaugural tourney, the Witch Creek fire engulfed the rural areas east of Poway, leading to mass evacuations.
“Organizers initially planned to cancel the event, but because competitors and their horses had flown in from all over the world, the event opened as scheduled and hundreds of spectators showed up to watch. As a result, the tournament was renamed the Tournament of the Phoenix, because it had risen phoenixlike from the flames.”
A jouster since 2003 who lists a day job as “Armourer, President, Historic Enterprises Inc.,” the motto of founder Hedgecock is “Honneur seurlement entre egaux' (Honor only among equals).
“A lifelong passion for all things medieval led Jeffrey Hedgecock to a career as an armourer,” said a website biography and an avocation in jousting.”
He is said to have shown his armouring techniques in 2005 at the Royal Armouries Museum in London.
“Jeff and crew made the armour for the cult classic Army of Darkness, and more recently Jeff has appeared on TV in programs such as Modern Marvels, Mail Call and The Worst Jobs in History,” his biography says.
“Jeffrey has jousted in Canada, England, France, Belgium, Scotland, New Zealand, Holland and at home in California, and also teaches jousting and medieval horsemanship to students all across North America.”